Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am still terribly sick. I have lost 5 pounds since Tuesday. Normally, I would think that is a good thing. But I would gladly have back those pounds if I also had my normal vigor and health. I will have to seek medical care today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Please say a prayer.

I am sick. Vomiting, etc.

Thank you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding Poetry in the Prosaic

A plain white bowl containing produce. I can look at it any way I choose. But I choose to see it as beautiful. Colorful. Nourishment. Deliciousness.

I could also say, those damn tomatoes were $3.50 a pound. The lemons, 3 for a dollar. The avocados, 4 for $5.00 - as if that's a bargain! Oh, and the tablecloth has a big honkin' stain on it from an AA event held at my house where someone knocked over a candle and failed to mention it to anyone.

But, I am gainfully employed, so I actually had the money to purchase those items. And I am grateful my tastes run to that type of food rather than a donut or french fries. I have friends who come and visit - and one of my friends helped me to scrape the candle wax off the tablecloth and the jute rug beneath the table. Another blogger gave me a tip for getting rid of the stain on the cloth (thanks Syd!).

Do you know that when I got sober and read the big book, I had to look up the word "prosaic?" I thought it was a special kind of "steel girder," with tons of atomic particles spinning around! I was surprised to learn that it meant "ordinary." Or also "Having the style or diction of prose; lacking poetic beauty."

I am sponsoring a woman who gets angry and calls people such things as "f***ing b****" etc. I recently suggested to her that she stop imprinting her brain with such harsh labels for people, that it would make it difficult to turn her thoughts around. I suggested she instead think to herself - "gosh, that person is not telling the truth" or "gee, she seems to be talking about me to her friend, I wonder if that is really the case or if I just think so." She looked at me like I was nuts.

But I think it is all about how we think of things and what we call them. Our words and our labels are important. They make a lasting impression on our souls.

So, I think I shall go forth, back to my workplace for this week. I will do the best job I possibly can and try to be a positive peer to all I meet. Perhaps my smile will make a difference to someone I run into today.

I get to do this as a sober person. Thank God.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

True Confessions on Sunday Morning

There is something that has been weighing on my mind since the last day of April this year. It was the night before a race, and although it was a major event in my life, I opted to put it on the back burner to think about at a later time. I was focused on my race.

I have posted my story here several times in several different ways. Anyone who has read that knows that I had a child when I was 15 years old. She was a girl, and I gave her up for adoption at that time. They took her away at birth and I never even got to hold her. That might have been the most acutely heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced.

Let me hasten to add that I have no regrets about the decision to place her for adoption. I never have. It was 1967, I was 15 years old and unmarried. In 1967, young women simply did not raise children by themselves. And for me, and this child, this was a good decision. Both of our lives would have been a living hell. I know this. She was adopted and raised by a "nice" family. She has had a life of privilege, which I could have never provided for her. Amazingly enough, they named her "Mary."

I always intended to find her after she turned 18. I waited, year after year, for the day I would find her. When she was 18, I was one year sober. I wrote a letter to the agency who had placed her. Forgive me if I don't now remember all the details, it was 26 years ago. I don't remember what exactly transpired for the two years before I heard from her. But I do know that the agency had contacted her to let her know I wanted to meet her - and her mother hid the letters. She didn't want to lose her baby to some stranger who happened to have given birth to her daughter. Bless her heart. Seriously. However, when Mary was 20, she told her mother she was desperate to meet her "real" mother and was going to start looking for me. Her mother came clean at that time and told her I was looking for her.

When I was sober about 3 years, I got a letter from the adoption agency. It was a letter from my daughter - including a photograph! In the letter, she thanked me for giving birth instead of having an abortion, she thanked me for taking good care of myself during my pregnancy because she was very healthy. It was more than I ever dreamed. We wrote for a while and then decided to meet each other. The adoption agency urged us not to do this. We scoffed at such silly advice!

On one fine Saturday morning in October, 1988, I drove to the airport to pick her up. She had flown to Denver. I stood at the gate waiting for my daughter, who I had never laid eyes on before, to walk off the plane. It was absolutely astounding when we met. We hugged and then just stared at each other. She stayed the weekend with us (me and my three children - her half-siblings). She was not impressed with me or my lifestyle. She didn't think much of the way I was raising my children. She didn't approve of much of anything that weekend.

To say it was unpleasant would be an understatement.

We stayed in touch, on and off, for a couple of years. She started drinking in that time. She told me she could finally understand why people drink alcoholically. Then she disappeared. I couldn't find her. I would try from time to time to find her, but I absolutely could not. I thought she might be dead - knowing of the horrible genetic legacy she had received from both her father and myself.

In February 2009, I got an e-mail from her. She was remarried and had a new last name. She was living in essentially the same place. She had three children - two of whom she had given up for adoption at birth, but was now very much in their lives. She had always known where I was, but was waiting for me to contact her (?). We talked on the phone for hours. I discovered she has a problem with alcohol, drugs, and some mental illness. I was still thrilled to be in touch with her. She was anxious to talk with my other children.

I broached the topic (which isn't really that pleasant) with my sober daughter. Her reaction was sort of lukewarm. I was waiting for a chance to talk to the other two, when again, Mary disappeared. Well, I thought, I am not going to go through all of this heartache for someone who is going to disappear.

A few months later, I got an e-mail telling me that she and her 18 year old daughter (one of the adoptees) were going to be coming to town and they would like to stay with me. Honestly, I had no idea of what to do! Obviously, I talked to my sponsor all through this, and several friends as well. I finally wrote her an e-mail and told her I would love to meet her somewhere - somewhere neutral. But I wasn't ready for an in-home visit. I also confronted her about her unpredictability and told her that I wasn't willing to disrupt my family if she was going to disappear. Her response to that? She said she was "predictably unpredictable."

To me, that was pretty much a middle finger to the relationship. She also sent me several e-mails that were downright offensive. She insulted my church and several other things she knew were important to me. We talked a few more times. She texted on holidays. Always "Hi Mom!!! Happy _____!!!" Frankly, I wasn't even comfortable about being called "mom" by her. She had a mother, and it wasn't me.

Then on April 30 of this year, I got three texts from her:
"I thought it over and this is the fakest relationship I ever had. Please do us both a favor and forget I'd ever existed. I'd thank you for life itself, but the fact is there weren't a real lot of options in 1967. Enjoy your "real children" and don't bother responding. Oh, I just realized I'm flattering myself. So, yeah, save it. I'm absolutely positive Jesus would advise you similarly. Best wishes to you and your REAL family for a happy, and wonderful life filled with lovely memories."

My first thought? I wanted to text her back and say: "as you wish." But I left it alone.

I could see that she is hurt and angry. And probably drunk. I thought the tone of that text was just nasty and hateful.

I know I am being pragmatic, but honestly, I believe I honored my commitment to her 44 years ago when I gave birth to her and then ensured that she would have the family that I could not provide. I cannot go back and change that - and even if I could - I wouldn't.

I never responded. I will respect her wish that I leave her alone. I honestly wish she didn't know where I live. I hope she will leave me alone.

And somehow that just seems really wrong. But I can't see it any other way.

She is right, I have a "real" family. I have real children, now adults, who I have raised. They are good people. They do not play games or do shitty, nasty things. We treat each other with respect. I am not willing to jeopardize that - not for anyone.

So, now you know the REST of the story....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Minutes

This rose, the Fragrant Cloud, is so bright I cannot photograph it! It just looks crazy. But you should see it in person. It is bright, beautiful, and so fragrant, my neighbor comes into my yard just to smell it.

The "three minutes" refers to the length of time I have to write something here.

I am meeting my running club at 5:45. I need to do 10 miles today. And I am asking myself why that seems like such a big deal when I just did a half-marathon 3 weeks ago. I guess the half-marathon was so bad, I got discouraged.

But here's the good news: I am sober, I am healthy, I am happy. I am capable of setting an alarm for 4 a.m., and then actually getting up and getting ready to go for a run with my pals. This is good.

I plan on staying sober today and I hope you all do too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Morning

Last night I met my running group for a trail run. It was so beautiful. The yucca (see above) are in bloom as are many wildflowers. It was glorious.

Who could have dreamed when I was a 32 year old drunken woman, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, suicidally depressed - that I would someday be out running a mountain trail, loving life, breathing easy... at the age of 59 and a half! Sobriety has been very very good to me.

And now I must get to an AA meeting. And I must be on time, so I have to get ready.

Thanks be to God for the blessings that abound, in nature and our lives.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Myth of a "Safe Place"

I shouldn't try to write this post when I have only 10 minutes, but I am going to anyway. I am sort of piggy-backing on what Pammie wrote this morning. I have written about this before and I likely will again.

The other night I was checking some stuff on the internet and found an entire website devoted to claims of sexual abuse in our fellowship. And hundreds of comments from people who have suffered at our hands. Truly, I am not minimizing the hurt. I have been hurt myself. I understand.

But what I don't understand is the perpetuation of the myth that somehow an AA meeting ought to be a "safe place." We are a self-governed bunch of drunks! We are in various stages of recovery - and non-recovery.

Just like when you walk into a bar, you don't go home with any stranger or loan money to a derelict sitting in the corner - you use judgment. I understand that a newcomers judgment may not be great and that is why we should not carry on with this crap that AA is a "safe place."

I have been hurt by AA members. I want to say "Well, of course I did!" If you hang around anywhere for long enough, you will get hurt by somebody. If you hang around a bunch of alcoholics, I think the chances are better than average that you will experience some unseemly behavior.

I think this whole thing spun out of control when judges started sentencing people to AA. It is my OPINION that we should have never let this happen. When someone is sentenced to AA, it is logical for them to assume that AA is some form of governmental help. And therefore ought to be facilitated, ruled and perhaps licensed. But it isn't.

It is a bunch of drunks who have found a way to stay sober. We are not all sober. We are not all sane. You will hear some crazy stuff in AA meetings and you will be able to find people who want to use and abuse you.

If you are truly done drinking and really want help, you can find it. There are people in AA (like me) who are truly sober and trying to live by spiritual principles every single day of their lives. Are they perfect? No. But are they trying their hardest? Yes. Will they help you if you ask them? Yes.

But you really do have to use some judgment.

Good! I did write this in 10 minutes. And now I will go to work. A woman, sober by the Grace of God, living a sober and sane life. Me and hundreds of thousands of people just like me are sitting in your local AA meeting, willing to help. You just have to look and ask.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bike to Work Day

Today is Bike to Work Day. I am in the habit of being the coordinator of this event for my workplace. I used to be quite the biker. Until I had a couple of terrible falls and now I have a lot of fear about riding a bike. Now I ride infrequently. I have not been on my bike since last summer. But I can't seem to let go of this part of my life. I like it. My office walls are covered with posters from BTWD from 2000 forward.

The ride to work is only 9 miles, and it is mostly downhill. The early morning air in the face is worth the price of admission.

I better get ready to roll.

Life is good on the sober side. Thank you God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As a child, I didn't understand the point of flowers. You couldn't eat them, they didn't do anything, and I thought grown ups were overly fond of them. For instance, when I would pick flowers out of other people's gardens, my mother would be apoplectic. I didn't see what the big deal was.

My mother died when I was 19, and for many years after her funeral, I could absolutely not stand the smell of roses. I called them "funeral flowers." My mother's coffin was covered with a huge spray of red roses. I believed that if God wanted us to admire roses, he would not have covered their stems with lethal thorns.

My ex-husband used to buy me roses. It annoyed me. I finally told him to stop wasting money like that. If he wanted to buy me something, I would prefer he buy me something that lasted longer than 3 days. I was a very pragmatic drunk.

I think I got a bit more sentimental after getting sober, although I couldn't give you an exact time line. I know my next husband called roses "guilt offerings." He had such a bitter take on everything. He thought the only reason a husband would buy roses or jewelry was guilt. The first Christmas we were married I was horrified to find that he did not purchase me a Christmas gift. He explained that he didn't have any reason to.

When we divorced, I rented a beautiful little house that was over 100 years old. I was then in my 40s, and sober over 10 years. In the backyard was a climbing rose bush. It was covered with red roses. I loved those roses. Every Sunday, I cut a passel of them and brought them in and placed them in a vase. The vase was present on my dining room table all summer long.

When I bought this house ten years ago, my very own house with a little patch of ground in the front and the back for a garden - or whatever I wanted - I was thrilled. I planted roses. I started very conservatively, I was afraid of roses. I thought they were difficult to grow. But they aren't. So, I have added a rose bush per year for the last several years. And now I have roses.

If the economy were better, I would sell this house with all its roses and move to a condo. I am older and training for a marathon which takes every molecule of my energy. My beloved neighbor started mowing my lawn and doing all its upkeep about a year ago. I love her for this. I do still tend my roses, but I sure don't take care of the rest of all this greenery. Thank God for my neighbor.

I don't know that anyone is interested in my obsession with roses, but I don't have anything going on this morning and wanted to write about this non-topic. I think it is interesting that I hated them, then came to love them, and now I am willing to let go of them. I still love them though.

Sobriety is a lot like that I think. If you have truly put your life in God's hands, all manner of changes can happen that you never expected. You just need to be open to what God has planned and let go of what you expected.

It is good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gratitude for Daily Life

Today I go back to my job after a week of vacation. I am grateful for many reasons:
  • I can get ice cold water from a water cooler instead of water from the bathroom sink
  • I can get caught up on my work... I have many projects that need to resume today
  • I really love my job
  • Maybe I can go out for lunch with my daughter who works in the same building
  • Maybe we can book our flights to Maine today (my daughter and I will be running a marathon there in October)
  • Today I will see people I love at work
  • Amazing, I actually love some people at work!
It is pouring rain outside. The kind of rain we seldom get in this arid climate. I was supposed to go swimming this morning, but the thought of running from the car to the gym was so unappealing, I didn't do it. I hope my roses don't get demolished. I have more roses in my garden than ever and you know I love me some roses!

I offered to take a sponsee's cats while she is moving out of her partner's house. I wonder if she will take me up on it. I could be having 2 cats as house guests. I wish they were toilet trained!

Speaking of which, I think the people next door might be deciding to sell their house. The kid is back from detox. I overheard the daughter telling someone on the phone that she is not going to be the one to clean the house by herself - but she will rip up the carpet upstairs because it is saturated with dog and cat urine. She won't clean the basement which is covered in dog feces - the boy's dog. And all I can say about this is - Thank God I don't need to sell my house right now because with that thing next door, I would have a hard time.

I am planning to stay sober today, and as grateful as I can be. I hope you all do too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

It hurts me to post a photo of something other than a rose since I have taken probably 100 photos of roses in the last week... but I just went for a hike in the mountains with a friend and took a photo of the creek - so I might as well post that. (was that the longest sentence I have ever written? maybe, but I don't feel like editing, so I shan't.)

I went to a meeting this morning where we talked about death and grieving appropriately. Very inspirational (just kidding). But there were several men there who are grieving the loss of their fathers and it is where we go on Father's Day. Last night at church I cried for my father - and my mother. It was the 40th anniversary of my mother's death. And I remembered that 40 years ago my father got a Father's Day present from her 2 days after her death. That was a hard thing to take.

I wished my friend a Happy Father's Day when he came to pick me up. I kind of felt like I might as well have punched him in the stomach. Oh, we have some history and some feelings.

It's OK. We are not like THEM - the earth people - who have never totally screwed up a relationship, a marriage, their roles as parents - the important things. But most of US have screwed up these things. I think it is best not to minimize these things.

But I do thank God I have a bunch of other people who know what I am talking about and understand on a cellular level.

Thank you other people!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Unless you are an alcoholic of the hopeless variety...

I need to be out of here in a half hour, I am trying to get a bowl of oatmeal and a strong cup of coffee down my gullet. I don't function well when I don't get enough sleep, and I certainly did not get enough last night.

My next door neighbors have abandoned their home and left it to their children - who are both in their twenties. The parents are living elsewhere in town, so they drop by occasionally. The daughter is a fine young woman who is about to finish college. The son is a nightmare, and probably a "future fellow." I have lost more sleep because of this kid than all of my three children put together, from infancy onward. The "kids" haven't mowed the lawn once this year, their mother's flower beds are overrun with weeds. The tree in the front yard is now hanging almost to the ground. It looks abandoned.

But for the noise at night. The young man likes to drink and find other folks who welcome the idea of going to someone's parents' house for a "party." When I was 24 I had a child to take care of, and my husband was working every day, we had our own home and responsibilities. When my son was 24, he was already the veteran of a foreign war and seven years into his career. I cannot imagine finding other people to go to a parents' house to whoop it up in the front and back yards. But he finds them.

I was about to call the police at 1 a.m. when I looked out the window to see why the ruckus seemed to have moved to under my bedroom window. I was greeted by the welcomed sight of two young men, their handcuffed hands behind their backs, being led away by the police. My little entitled friend was telling the police they were violating his rights and they would be sorry. Which didn't endear him to the police either. I overheard the police say the complaint came from 2 blocks away and they had no problem finding the source of the noise from 2 blocks away. It took another hour, with five police cars in front of my house, before they drove away. I believe they found drugs in the house.

I know the little man was going to detox, which probably means he will be home later today, but I pray he can get the idea that he needs to quit doing this. It is not my job to diagnose him an alcoholic, but I do hope he gets some help.

I have spent many nights awake, listening to him cuss, fight, brawl, sing, etc.... fantasizing how I would greet him if and when he gets "to the rooms." In the daylight hours, I know I would welcome him with open arms, just like everyone else. But I have had some dark, dark, thoughts in the wee hours of the morning when I should have been sleeping but for the chaos next door.

Which leads me back to what I posted yesterday. It always frightens me a bit when people talk about "s/he might as well be drunk," "If THAT is sobriety, I would rather be drunk," "I want more than just being DRY." If you are an alcoholic of the type that I am, and most of the people I am close to are, being DRY is infinitely better than being drunk. No one ever led me out of my house with handcuffs behind my back for lacking "emotional sobriety."

Granted, I do want to grow - every single day. I strive for emotional sobriety, and I think most of the time I have it today. But I didn't start out that way, most of us don't.

I will always thank God that I am sober - no matter what that looks like. Because no matter what, it doesn't look or feel like being drunk.

God, have mercy on my little friend next door. Please find him the help he needs and soften his heart so that he might accept it. Thank you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

To hit an alcoholic below the belt...

When I was married to my abusive recovering alcoholic husband, he would frequently accuse me of not really being sober. He didn't think much of my relationship with God. He didn't like much of anything I said or did. And somehow, that translated into him feeling he had the right to proclaim my sobriety as somehow invalid.

I have now been divorced from that man for nearly 17 years - it's been almost 18 years since I walked away from our home with just a backpack. So, normally, I don't think about this, or when I do, it is not with the feeling that I have right now.

One of my sponsees is going through a terrible breakup as I have mentioned several days running. Her partner has resorted to this tactic. She is calling it "addict mode." I asked my sponsee this rhetorical question: Were you ever an addict? The answer was no. But, because she is not behaving the way the other person would like her to, she is in "addict mode." And since I, as her sponsor, have been kept apprised all along, her partner has questioned my "ability to be a sponsor."

My daughter is also going through a terrible breakup. Please God, she gets away from this man, it has been a sick, sick, relationship - as frequently our relationships in early sobriety are. She called me yesterday to tell me that he was threatening to call me, her mother, to tell me that my daughter is "using." I must admit I first asked my daughter - are you still clean and sober? yes. Are you going to meetings? yes. Do you have a sponsor? yes. Are you talking with her? yes, every day, and meeting with her once a week face to face. OK then, I HOPE he calls me. Really, I do. She said he probably won't call me because I terrify him, but she wanted to warn me in case he did.

I guess when you cannot take responsibility for your own behavior and its impact on another person, it makes sense to impugn their integrity.

Praise God, I am not in that dark, dark place. Nor are my daughter or sponsee.

But I gotta tell you, I think this is cheap, cheap behavior.

Again, I am grateful I get to go sit in silence in a church basement all day today. At 3 o'clock, I will join the other ladies in the other room and pray. Oh, this is SO what I needed this week. Thank you God.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday A.M.

I sure am glad I am in the icon class this week. I feel that I have been lovingly placed there by God as a gift. There is so much stuff going on with the people I care about, I would be worrying myself to distraction if not for this holy environment I have found myself in all week.

I have somehow found myself in the middle of the domestic situation of a sponsee. I guess that is what can happen when you have sponsored someone for years and have been to their home and met their family - and likewise they have been to my home and met my family. I won't go into details, but it is very ugly, and I wish my dear sponsee wasn't going through this. And I wish her partner wasn't trying to drag me into it.

I have a meeting for work this morning, and then I can spend the next couple of days finishing up my icon. In the still silence of a church basement in North Denver. Yesterday at 3 p.m., I heard chimes, it was an alarm on one of my classmate's phone. It was a call to prayer. A few of them got up and left the room - they asked me to join them. We went into another room and prayed together. It was really beautiful.

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us." ..."
Mother Teresa

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yesterday didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped. I had to leave my class at noon to go to a meeting at work. I took two little containers of paint so that I could work on my icon at home last night. When I got home, I set up an area so that I could quietly paint for an hour or two. I put on my Cistercian Monks Chant album, and sat down to paint. I opened the containers of paint, which consists of egg yolks, wine, and pure pigment, and found that the eggs had cooked while sitting in my car all afternoon! So, I did not paint.

I thought I might take my computer to bed and watch a movie. Then the phone rang. It was a sponsee in crisis. While I was talking with her, I got a text from another sponsee in crisis. I was actually texting one while talking to the other! One is someone who tends to crisis, the other isn't. I was texting one of them until 10 a.m., and then when I sent her an e-mail at five, she realized I was awake and started texting again. We are still texting. Bless her heart. It is a hard time for her. She knows she will get through it though because she knows that God is with her.

And somewhere in there was a phone call from someone I had dinner with on Saturday night. He brought his friend from California to dinner so that I could meet him, we met and had the grandest time on Saturday night. He called to let me know that he went to the gym with his friend on Sunday morning, where his friend keeled over and died - on the spot. Oh my Lord. It is so sad, for everyone. He was on his way, driving, from California to New Jersey. So, he will not to get to visit with his brother as he had planned. I am glad he didn't die while on the road or in a hotel room along the way, but with his friend who loved him. I am also glad we all shared a huge strawberry shortcake dessert. Imagine skipping dessert at your last meal!

Today I will gratefully go back to my icon class in a church basement in North Denver. I will shut off my phone at 8 a.m., and turn it back on whenever I get done with the class. I need to be on a communication restriction today. Gratefully.

I see the hand of God in all the tragedy I have been privileged to share in the last 24 hours. I am so grateful He takes care of us even when we are trying our level best to destroy our lives. And I know he will welcome my friend's friend home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday of the Week of Vacation

I am getting disoriented to time this week. I have been in this class for three days now, but it is only Tuesday, I worked on my icon Saturday and all day and into the evening on Sunday. I am exhausted and it is my vacation! I am realizing how restful my job is... not because I am not busy and hard-working, but because I have been doing the same job for 10 years, and been at the same employer for almost 17 years - I am used to my kind of hard work. It is my comfort-zone. Now I am out of the zone. And that is good for me.

This morning I went swimming at the gym. After I got out of the shower and was dressing in the locker room, I was witness to an altercation between two women. Being naked in public is a very vulnerable feeling at any time, but when there is name-calling, throwing things, and yelling, being naked is probably the least favorable condition. I did quietly tell the name-caller, thrower and yeller that "I don't need this first thing in the morning." She did shut up, but continued to throw things around.

There were a couple of years when I was that quick to anger. They were horrible years when I was being battered at home by my husband. When your life is that out-of-kilter, things can burst out in all manner of inappropriate ways. Just when you need people to love you more than ever, you alienate them the most. Ironic and sad.

Who knows? Maybe she is just a spoiled bratty person. But I know what my experience with that kind of anger is. I will pray for her.

And I have all morning to sit in quiet meditation while I work on my icon. I wish I could describe this to you all. There are twenty-two steps to this process. They are all spiritually and esthetically important. I didn't pay the outrageous sum of money and take a week of my vacation time so that I could come to the class and then "do my own thing." I have come to submit myself to the discipline I am learning. It is amazing. It hurts sometimes. Like when I find out I have not listened, and I have done something wrong. It can be fixed, but my pride tells me I ought to be able to figure this out alone and not need someone to kindly tell me what I need to do to correct what I have done wrong. Just like real life....

Then I have to go to work this afternoon. I only had two days notice before taking a week off, so I have two meetings I have to go to this week.

Oh, and on Sunday, pulling into the church parking lot, I saw my old landlady! The church is two blocks from the house I rented while I was getting divorced. I was ten year sober and loved this house. Loved, loved, loved. It was over 100 years old in one of those neighborhoods every city has - the one that used to be "run down," but now is "gentrified." I loved living there. I didn't even own a car! So, I saw my old landlady and ran over to greet her! It took her a few minutes to remember me. Her husband has died and she is lonely and would like to go have lunch with me. We exchanged phone numbers.

Thank God I was sober then and am sober now. There have been landlords in my life I still would rather not run into. I wasn't the best renter when I was drinking. I have made amends as best I could, but I still know how much I caused harm. If only because they trusted me and then I let them down if only because I didn't clean very well when I left.

OK, I need to get going. I am doing this stream-of-consciousness again...

I plan on staying sober today and I hope you all do too. God bless you all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday of Vacation Week

I'm not on the ocean on this vacation. I am in a church basement in North Denver. But the photo is from my vacation last summer, when my daughter and I went to the ocean after the International AA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. I sat on the balcony of our hotel room and watched the sunrise, from pitch black to bright daylight. It was nice for this landlocked person.

This week I am in a church basement working on an icon. I am grateful that I blogged about the last one I did because I know that I complained of being exhausted five years ago. I am exhausted now. The class officially starts today, but I have already been working on my icon for two days. Yesterday, I gave up when it was already after 8 p.m., I was having terrible difficulty getting the gold to adhere to the halo. So, I shall hit it this morning, hopefully fresh and full of energy and willingness to have new lessons in humility.

I am fighting something we alcoholics ironically call "perfectionism." A better term might be "quit before we try-ism," because I want to get it right, without effort, and without any difficulty. Barring that, I would like to simply walk away. In my warped mind, I want my teacher, who has been doing this for a lifetime, to say to me - "oh my goodness, Mary! You are a natural! Who ever saw such a beautiful thing?" Instead I am hearing "don't worry, we can fix this."

That urge to be at the top of the heap, and if not the top, then the bottom, or walk away - is something I have had to pray to be released from, for all of my life. Most of the time these days it is not something I even think about. But when trying something new and challenging, it does come up.

God is with me every step of the way, so when I ask him for help, it is there. I think I shall ask him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

And I failed to mention...

My beloved alcoholic daughter is still sober. For nearly two and a half years now. She has astounded me at every step along the way.

She is now in a shelter for battered women. Oh, no, that is not what the mother of any other daughter would think is a step in the right direction, but they are not the mother chosen by God for this child.

But this is a long way from living with the creep she's been with for the last two years. I don't know the whole story, and I have learned I don't need to know the whole story. But she is getting help there to get on her feet - on her own. For the first time in her life. She has never lived alone. She is $200. away from her own apartment. Does it kill me to not just give her $200.? Yes. But I know it is the right thing to (not) do.

Recently when I was trying to sponsor a new woman (which MY sponsor told me I have no business doing any more because I just don't "get" that kind of chaos anymore), I called my daughter for advice. Amazing. She told me exactly what I needed to do with this new woman. I told my daughter that I didn't understand someone who is complaining about riding the bus when she has had so many DUIs, complaining about having to move when she hasn't paid the rent, complaining about the myriad people who were helping her move, etc. My daughter said "F*** that! she needs to be GRATEFUL!" Oh, yeah, you are right daughter, she does need to be grateful. I thought I was just being harsh - my daughter has outharshed me by miles. And it helps me to realize that there is a new generation in AA that is really doing the deal.

To have a sober daughter is a blessing beyond anything I could describe. I love this girl so much. She is the heart of my heart.

Thank God for the hard core AA members He put in her life when she had finally had enough.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Morning

It's a beautiful Saturday morning. The first day of my vacation. I am heading off to an AA meeting now and then will go to the first day of my icon class.

Hopefully once I get to my class, I will start to let go of work. I left something very important in the hands of someone else. She will get it done, but she will drive everyone crazy. I guess that is not my problem. Maybe they will have a new appreciation for me and my interpersonal skills when I get back?

I am grateful I have a job where I can decide on Thursday to take the whole next week off. I am grateful I have the opportunity to go to this class. I am grateful I have the ability to write a check for it this morning - even though it probably isn't the most prudent thing I have ever done.

And Happy Birthday Pammie! She is sober 20 years today! She is a beautiful blogger I met here and then met in person and have grown to love. God bless you Pammie!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Journal v. Blog

I may be taking a sudden vacation next week. There are two work meetings I absolutely must attend, but I think I can take the rest of the week off. I suddenly have the opportunity to attend another icon class. I took one 5 years ago. It was amazing. I talked with some of my friends, including my favorite psychiatrist (who used to be my boss) and they have all said "do it!!!" It is extremely difficult to try to prepare for a week off of work in 2 days, but I think I can get it done. I am so so so excited.

As I was thinking about this, I wanted to look back to the class I took in 2006. I wrote about it here in my blog. I was able to go to the header of my blog and type in "icon" and see a lot of what I wrote about it then. And see photos. Although I did misspell the word "icon" for a while because I didn't want to come up in searches for them.

That's the second time in a week that I have come here to my blog to reference events in my life. And it causes me to think that perhaps a blog is a better journal than a paper journal. I have stacks and stacks of journals in my closet. I think the only journal entry I actually care about is from July 24, 1984 - the day I called AA for help and went to my first meeting. The entries I made that day are very precious to me. But all the falling in and out of love, complaining about being tired, the insanity of early sobriety, the drama of two divorces, and all the daily details? I don't go back and read it. And in fact, I am thinking of burning them.

My oldest and beloved sponsee burned her journals a couple of years ago. When she first told me she was going to, I thought it was foolish. But then she explained that if something happened to her, she didn't want her mother to read of all her suicidal depressions, her lusts, and all of her private thoughts. When she burned them, she said it was very cathartic.

I know I tend to the morbid, but I increasingly think of what it would be like for my children if I suddenly died. There is so much crap in this house. And there are those journals. I really wouldn't want them to read them. I guess I just answered my own question, didn't I? I can save the three or four pieces of paper from my sobriety date and get rid of the rest!

I plan on staying sober today and I hope you all do too.

And if you have a moment, go over and say hello to a new blogger, Lola.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ruined Lives

I am a person who watches way too much television news. CNN to be specific. People who know me well cannot believe I can have this playing in the background so often. But it is an old habit.

In the last month or so, I have heard the stories of ruined lives. Overly powerful men who think they have license to do anything - and then do. And the women and children who love (or loved) them.

Now, I am a person who has a photo of Mel Gibson in my office. I am not fickle with my celebrities or even politicians.

I have done too many insanely incomprehensible things in my life, and not all of them when I was drunk. As a drunk I did things I regretted nearly every day. Things I hoped would never see the light of day. As a sober person, I have done a few things that were incredibly bone-headed.

I have also loved someone who did something disgraceful and it ended up in the local newspaper. My life was turned into a living hell for a period of time, and this event had a lot to do with our relationship ending.

I cannot even imagine having the media at large talking about my genitalia and all of the stupid things I have said. Imagine having every text you sent, every e-mail, every word, analyzed in front of millions of horrified eyes. Granted, I have never had a secret second family, or sent photos of my "parts" to someone else. But as far as the photos, I can't possibly convince myself that I would not have done that when drunk if I had access to all the technology drunks have today. Oh, it is horrifying to me to even imagine!

So, I say a prayer for those people whose lives are being torn to shreds. And I also say a prayer of thanksgiving for the fact that I am not dealing with these things in my life today. Oh, Thank God!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

June 7

It was 30 years ago that I was raped. If you would have told me then that I would still have this date engraved in my soul thirty years later, I would not have believed it. But my life was irrevocably changed that night. (I wrote about it in depth here.)

Two years ago I was suffering terribly from PTSD from the rape and underwent therapy for it. It was immensely helpful. And just sitting here tonight, about to go to bed, I am brought to tears remembering. I was asked to name a "safe place" before we began the therapy. I thought it was lame, but the best safe place I could come up with was my own bedroom. My own bed. In all of its glorious whiteness, the crisp white sheets, the white duvet, the white duvet cover, all bleached, ironed, and starched. The window open and the sheers floating on a warm breeze.

This is exactly the safe place that I get to fall into in a moment. This is no dream. This is my reality today. I have a safe place to lay my head.

And if you are an alcoholic woman, you may know what a miracle this is.

God has blessed me so abundantly. I am so grateful to be sober. I am so grateful for the beautiful life I have today.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Hi There

I've decided I am going to try blogging daily for 30 days and see how that turns out for me. If it turns negative, I pray God will help me to stop as He did once before when I needed to stop.

The race on Saturday was not my best. In fact, it was my worst. As I am in my 60th year, and I have a marathon in October, I will continue my training until my marathon in October. Then I will take up a more age appropriate way of getting exercise. Ironically, I had my best race since 2007 just a month ago. I saw my chiropractor today and she suggested that I take 2 weeks off for now and see how that goes. I will do that. I went swimming today and it felt like heaven. As I slithered through the water, it felt like there was rust all throughout my spine that was breaking away with each stroke. Two weeks of that I can definitely stand.

I went to a wonderful AA meeting this morning. I missed my group's monthly dinner on Saturday because I was unable to get out of bed after the race. I have missed very few of those. I was told they were waiting for me and my pie - and that made me happy and sad. The pie crust was made, the filling was made, but they sat in the fridge unassembled... and remain that way today. I will make it tonight and take it to work tomorrow.

Being a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous is a very good deal. I wish I could describe that without people taking offense and hearing me as being intolerant and judgmental. If you could only know my heart, you would know that is the furthest thing from it. But I cannot soften my experience to make it more palatable to anyone. It is my experience. And I am grateful for the people who were willing to tell me the unvarnished truth. No one told me I could tailor AA to fit me - they told me my way didn't work and I ought to try it their way. They were sober, I was not. I was willing to hear and listen. Thank God for that. I see people who insist on doing things their own way, and they continue to get the same results. And no one is impolite enough to save their lives with a bit of truth. I guess it is more acceptable to "love" someone right into the grave.

"If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. " Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Off to a Race

I'm off to do a half-marathon this morning. A little bit terrified as always. It's supposed to be hot today and the race doesn't start until 8 a.m. In God's hands....

By the Grace of God, one fine day in July 1984, I had a desire to stop drinking. I came to AA and threw myself on your mercy. I was and am eternally grateful for your help. I listened with the ears of the dying, and did what you told me to do. I didn't argue or look for another way - I had already been down all those blind alleys.

And now, I get to live a peaceful life. Not that everything is perfect. Nor is everyone in my life perfect. But I was taught that I cannot live in resentment and hatred. So, I had to let go of those things, in order to stay sober. Not so I could feel superior to anyone. But to LIVE.

"Half measures availed us nothing. " Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 59

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Checking in...

It's six months since I've posted anything. It's funny how I don't miss the blog most of the time. But the other night my daughter asked me what year she went into rehab in the mountains (one of the many rehabs she hit), and I went to my blog, as I frequently do, to see when it was. It was in May 2008. Then I read a few of my other posts, because they really do detail my life for the last almost 6 years. Blogging was so good when it was good. And then it got so bad.

I started loosing sleep over it. The evil comments really truly bothered me. Most bloggers just blow them off, but they would eat at me. The critical AA members bothered me the most. People who hated AA I could understand, but defenders of AA who felt that I was threatening it really bothered.

Then others would tell me to "blog for yourself." Well, if I was going to blog for myself, my blog would not be about my alcoholism. My blog would be about something much more interesting. I am a pretty interesting person, I have many, many interests. But for me, since I have identified as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I felt I had an obligation to have a message. In the last six months, I actually have blogged about something entirely different and it has been very refreshing. People in the other realm just do not get nasty the way alcoholics do.

The last straw for me last year was when I visited the blog of a woman who told me she read my blog faithfully first thing every morning. She fed my ego when she said I was helping her "so much." Then I visited her blog and saw that she was not drinking, but refused to go to AA. She hated her own mother to the point that she had a restraining order, which just sounded vindictive to me. Her blog was so full of hatred and resentment. And I thought "I am helping her????" Do I really want to enable someone to live that way?

I have always attracted a certain number of what my ex-husband used to call "second-handers." They don't want to actually go to AA or work the steps themselves, they just want to call someone else who does. They can fool themselves into thinking they can get the program "second-hand" that way. I could see that some people were using my blog that way - and God help them if I was the only AA they were getting!

I have some pretty strong feelings about AA - and about what I see going on in AA currently. I love the AA that I got sober in. There are still pockets of it around. I feel sad beyond words that I think it is not very prevalent, and people are not staying sober. We have gotten so watered down with treatment center and therapist lingo, you hear very little AA in AA meetings, and you see very few sober people. I really don't consider people using drugs recreationally sober. Nor do I consider people who drink regularly sober. Sorry.

So, here's what's new with me:
  • I am still sober, by the Grace of a Loving God.
  • I am still growing roses, baking pies, running races.
  • My son is in Iraq again.
  • I graduated from Biblical School - after completing 4 years of it.
  • My baby granddaughter is already 8 months old.
  • I am in my 60th year of life.
  • I am in my 27th year of sobriety.
  • God has been so very good to me, I am more blessed than I could tell you.
So, for my old friends, I have missed you.

For any stray reader who may come by: if you are an alcoholic and you WANT to quit drinking, go to an AA meeting. Buy a big book and read it. Find a sponsor who talks like the big book. Ask for help from that person. If they want to take you through the steps using the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, hang on - you are in for the ride of your life. If they aren't grounded in the big book, run for your life. You can find help in Alcoholics Anonymous, but only if you want it. You can find any kind of craziness you want in AA, and that may serve as an excuse for you to be unsuccessful - it is up to you. Truly.

But if you are the kind of an alcoholic I understand, being sober is the greatest blessing ever. It is worth the small amount of "work" involved.

"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you - until then." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 164