Monday, April 30, 2012

Expectations of Sobriety

I am sponsoring someone who reminds me of me when I was early in sobriety.  When I see her name show up on my phone, honestly I do not want to answer.  I know there will be hysterical crying, accounts of what happened - heavy on hyperbole, and the worst way to interpret every circumstance.  Yesterday she called and told me she had just had "the worst day in my life."  It is so hard to talk to someone who has these experiences on almost a daily basis.  But I recall being 6 to 9 years sober and going through an abusive marriage, and being hysterical half the time.  I thank God for the people who were willing to hang in there with me (there weren't many).

I frequently warn her against comparing her insides to others' outsides.  She thinks she is the only sober person who has difficulty.  She goes to a meeting where people tend to be financially very stable and affluent, well-educated, mostly happily married, and don't seem to be dealing with the wreckage she is.  I tell her that first of all, we don't know if that is really the truth about these folks - and it isn't our business to figure out if it is.  Secondly, it is not a good idea to compare.  Third, we all start on our recovery journey in a different place.  She is making her kind of progress, it just doesn't look like other people's progress.

I remember a time when someone told me that if I was an example of five years of sobriety, he would rather be drunk.  Well, he died drunk.  I didn't wish it on him though.  I have told people that maybe sometimes I am a good bad example.  There is a use for those too, you know.

Later I had a friend who would say "Sobriety for sobriety's sake sucks."  I would argue heartily with him on this point.  He thinks it is ironic because he thinks I am one of the finest examples of making the most of your sobriety.  Well, I didn't do that overnight.  And if I thought I had to have great accomplishments, money, happy relationships, and great healing all the way around to have my sobriety mean something, I couldn't have thought I was successfully sober in my first ten years.  Thank God I hung in there and worked a program and stayed sober.

I have often said that if I could have made a list of what I wanted from my sobriety when I was newly sober, I would have gravely short-changed myself.  But some of the things I cherish the most are completely intangible.  Being with my father as he was dying.  Being present at the birth of two of my grandchildren.  Being a trustworthy grandmother.  Going back to church, painting icons, graduating from Biblical School.... I could go on, but you get the drift.

Some of the accomplishments others value a lot are:   going back to college when I was 43, and having a master's degree by the time I was 50.  Getting a "good job" and keeping it for a long dang time.  Buying a house.  Buying new cars.  Etc.

But I still have the same brain.  By the grace of God most days today you would never know that I used to respond hysterically to nearly everything.  But I do still suffer from depression.  I take meticulous care of myself to try to keep that serpent at bay.  If I vary much from my life style I seem to open the door for it.  Changing jobs earlier this year seems to have done that.

The thing I would like to say is:  I am going through a depression. I know that I will get to the other side.  I have many tools in my toolbox.  I have faith that I am where I am supposed to be.  And I have remained sober.

That, to me, is a hopeful message.

And I am not sure I can continue to blog through this - I can't imagine why anyone would continue to read when I am a broken record every day.  I will pray about this.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Changes

This is my "rescue icon," someone else worked on it and abandoned it.  She just walked away.  I have been tempted to do the same.  I have worked on this for many hours, and it is extremely difficult to undo what's been done.  I think St. John the Baptist deserves better than this, so I will continue to work on it.

Yesterday I got my hair cut.  My stylist has known me for a very long time - she used to cut it very short when I asked her to, but she doesn't any more.  It is short - but it is not VERY short.  I have long bangs, and enough hair over my ears to "tuck" it.  The back is very short.  It is super cute and I am so happy I did this.  I feel like I look about 10 years younger.  That long hair drags down my face - and gravity is doing a good enough job, it doesn't need any help!  I also dragged out my old horn rimmed glasses and feel like I have a whole new look.

Yesterday I decided to quit my running club.  I will continue to exercise, I know that.  But I don't want to pay so much money and have my weekends be so centered around my Saturday morning run.  I have too many priorities right now, I can easily eliminate this one.  I will serve out the time I have already paid for and then I will have Saturdays to myself again.  In truth, that will probably be July.  But that's OK.

I have my little baby here with me today.  She got upset earlier and held her arms out to me - the way she does her Mom and Dad.  I held her and began to cry myself.  Such a primordial thing.  Since the beginning of time babies have clung to their mamas, daddys, and grandmothers!  It is a beautiful thing to be part of that equation!  Now, THIS feeds my soul.

I have been chronicling these past few months my "little bit of a breakdown."  (That phrase comes from a song I can't remember right now.)  It is risky to put it on the internet, but I was taught to share my real experience, strength, and hope.  Not my delusional system about how great I am - like if I convince you I may convince myself.

So this is it.  I am still moving forward.  And amazingly enough, I have not had a drink.  If you are the type of alcoholic I am, you understand what a big deal that is.  And if you are looking for someone who is the picture of serenity and happiness every day - you will probably be terribly disappointed by my blog.

Here's another one of my quirks - I cannot stand the sound of cartoons.  I thought I could turn on a cartoon for my granddaughter while I wrote this, but it is making my so anxious I can't stand it.  I remember a scene from the movie "The Days of Wine and Roses," where the alcoholic woman is sitting in a chair, by herself, in the middle of the day - with a cigarette and a glass of booze - watching cartoons.  ugh!  I can't think of anything worse!

But that is NOT my story today.  I am sober.  My little baby holds her arms out to me and wraps them around my neck when I pick her up.  I will turn off these cartoons and play with baby girl.

God has been so good to me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Frigid Saturday Morning

It is 31º outside this morning and I am nervous about my flowers.  And my sprinkler system which I turned on this week.  I planted gladioli a couple of weeks ago and there are already little shoots coming up.  I cannot wait to have my own glads growing in my own yard!  I love them!
I spent a couple of hours pulling weeds last night.  I don't much like doing that.  But I never bothered last year or the year before because all of my energies were going toward marathon training.

I have a couple of races coming up in June that I have essentially not trained for.  I will likely do them anyway.    I have an olympic distance triathlon on June 10 and a half marathon on June 23.  I could easily do a sprint distance tri, but I am registered for an olympic.  Crap.

Yesterday I popped into my hair stylist's salon at 6:30 a.m. on my way to work.  She was there, and I begged her to fit me in this weekend.  She was frowning, but she did it.  She has proms all day today, but will squeeze me in at 1:00.  I think by my forcing the issue, I have forced the issue of getting my hair cut short, since that is what I told her the emergency was.  I need to do it I think.  We'll see if I can.

I am meeting my running club in a matter of minutes.  I have totally lost my enthusiasm for this group.  I still love my coach, but I have a problem with one of the other members of our small group and it is affecting the whole experience for me.  She is the one who made the snarky comment to me earlier this year:  "Do you think I need to go to AA Mary?"  Having never told anyone in that group that I am in AA, I wonder why she concluded that I am in AA, and why that is an issue for her.  Well, I don't really wonder why it is an issue for her.  She also makes very profane remarks constantly, and although I have never said anything to her, I am certain that my facial expression does not hide my horror.  Everyone in the group DOES know I am Catholic.  I talk about it, and I also wear a gold cross and miraculous medal at all times, which pretty much SCREAMS "Catholic!!!"  I end up running alone and I don't know why I would pay $450. a year to do that.  So, I likely will not at the end of this session (in June).

Yesterday I ended up in my boss' office - crying.  Oh, horror of horrors!  When she responded by telling me how much they value me, she started crying too.  I just love this woman, and I think she feels the same way about me.  She talked to her boss about what is going on, and he went right up to the top of the org chart to address it.  I think things will be changing.  It will not help my relationships with my problem people, but I think having good relationships wasn't helping with the work. I cannot be dishonest in order to "get along."

It is a time of great change for me.  I feel like my whole life has been shaken up and left to resettle, like one of the old snow globes I used to love.  I think these changes needed to happen.  Change isn't always pleasant, it can be difficult.

The few weeks just before I got sober was a period of great change just like this.  The changes made me realize that I couldn't go on as I was.  I knew I had to stop drinking.  And believe me, this was a HUGE change!  Just thinking I needed to quit was an entirely new thought for me.

We will see where I end up as a result of all this stuff.  But I know it has made me realize that some things just have to change.

"There is God, our Father, who very simply says, 'I am waiting for you to do my will.'  The other authority is named John Barleycorn, and he says, 'You had better do God's will or I will kill you."  -- As Bill Sees It,  p. 319

Friday, April 27, 2012

One Day at a Time

It is Friday.  I am going to work.  I am driving so that I may get there super early.  If I leave home early enough, I can get to work in 20 to 30 minutes.  If I wait until after 7 a.m., it takes closer to 45 harried minutes.  If I take the bus from my house it takes 50 minutes.  If I drive to the Park n' Ride and take the bus from there, it takes 20 minutes - but it takes 10 minutes to drive to the PnR.  I run through this little decision flowchart every morning.  Yesterday I drove in early and it was good.

Then I met a friend for dinner at a fabulous vegetarian restaurant just a 20 minute walk away from my office.  We sat outside and watched a thunderstorm roll in.  The lightening was so close!  The restaurant lost its power and we had to wait for our check because their computer was not working.  It was lovely to see my friend.  It was lovely to sit outside and feel the first tentative drops of rain turn into a whirling, crackling storm.

Today I am hoping to wade through a bunch of data that is so disorganized and un-labeled, looks like they just took tables out of SPSS and plopped them into Excel - and somehow I will turn this into something meaningful.  At first, I thought this division was just having a harder time getting to where they needed to be.  Now I am wondering if they are being passive aggressive with their data - sending me what they know is shit because they don't like the process.  I went to a meeting of theirs last week where they spent 30 minutes out of an hour talking about how they don't have time to do this.  Really?  How 'bout you stop talking about it and just start doing it?

Yesterday when I opened the files they sent me I panicked.  My hands started perspiring and I felt like I was going to cry.  Today I will just plod through it.

I have learned to just take it one step, one second, one byte at a time in AA.  When I got to AA and heard the "one day at a time," I thought that was just a cheesy cliche.  And then I had that sweaty hands response to the idea of "never" drinking again.  Just then, the phrase "one day at a time" appeared like a thought balloon above my head and made perfectly good sense to me.

That is how I am getting through these days.  Sometimes I am doing behavior mod with myself and forcing myself to sit for an hour to work on a graph - and then I will go get a nice glass of ice water - after the allotted increment of work.  I like to think I pray a lot, but I think I am in closer touch with God in the last few months.  I pray a LOT!

One Day at a Time - I think I shall stay sober today and I hope you all do too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dealing with Age

Google Images can certainly be instructive.  When searching for "old women" you get a selection of gross images.  "Funny" pictures.  Like the iconic old woman smoking a cigar... ha ha, very funny.  Women with no teeth - again, fricking hilarious.  After scrolling for pages, I finally got to Helen Mirren.  Who is gorgeous (and has admittedly had some "work" done).  And a couple of other real women.  But mostly, "old woman" seems to be a joke.  Nice.

When googling "old men," you are treated to a selection of photos of Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Tommy Lee Jones (who is so sexy), Pope Benedict, Clint Eastwood, a generic distinguished gentleman with a pipe... and then some old toothless men.

I have really never had an age crisis before.  I was thrilled to turn 30.  I was thrilled to turn 50.  I didn't really mind turning 60.  And then I started working with women who are all younger than my youngest children.  One of them was born the year I got sober.

I have never thought about my age so much.  It is a weird form of self-centeredness.  And it is not fun.

Yesterday I decided this long hair has got to go.  I might even stop coloring it.  I have decided that worse than being "old" is trying to look "young."  I hadn't thought of my hair that way, but I think I would be better with short hair.

I have had two good days at work in a row.  I have grown friendly with one of these young women.  She is a delightful young mother whose husband stays at home with baby.  He sends her pictures of him all day long (the baby).  She coos with delight.  It is very sweet.  She invited me to lunch yesterday and we talked about our new jobs.  It is good to hear someone else's perspective, especially when it aligns with mine!

Being on a 180º learning curve is probably good for me, but really challenging.  I am learning not only about my job, but about people, and myself.

Every day I start my day with a prayer that God gives me the strength to do his will.  I ask him to show me how I can be the person he would like me to be.  Every now and then, I get a glimpse of that.  I have had several days in a row that feel like I am finally getting to the other side.

And the two "terrible" weeks start today, so I better get out of here!

Let's all stay sober today, OK?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Daddy's Home...

When I saw my little grandbaby the other night, I was a teensy bit shocked!  She is a child transformed!  Her momma is out of state at a training, and her Daddy is back from Afghanistan and in charge.  Therefore, a normally neat, clean, and well-dressed baby is now running around the back yard in a diaper, shirt, and pink sparkly boots.  She has a cowboy hat on!  Her pacifier has reappeared - I hadn't seen it in probably a year.  In fairness to my son, she had a fever earlier in the day and was not feeling well - once she felt better, the paccie was gone.

When I saw the tenderness between them, my heart melted.  When he called her "Angel," my heart nearly burst.  That is what I always called my kids.  When I saw the joy in that household, I thought this is all I need.    I honestly don't know where my son learned to be so sweet to a little girl, but he did learn it, learn it well, and I am so pleased.  I am so glad this little girl will have the occasional opportunity to run around in a diaper, sparkly boots, and a cowboy hat.  ( I would have NEVER let my kids do that - they had to look neat at all times - probably to cover up their mother's chaos and insecurity.)

I was on the phone for much too long last night.  The world is buzzing about our friend who has gotten drunk.  I absolutely hate that this beautiful young woman who seemed to be so safely sober (as if!) has suffered such a fate.  But I also believe what Bill W. said in As Bill Sees It - "There is no waste in God's economy."  I believe this tragedy is a big wake-up call to a lot of people who probably needed a wake-up call and reality check.

Yesterday was actually a good day at work.  The bosses were gone, and my co-workers and I were talking and laughing.  None of us are used to working in cubicles, so we normally sit quietly and work. I guess we all felt free to open our mouths yesterday.  I have prayed for God's grace to allow me to like these women, and I believe he has answered my prayers.

Today at 5:00 starts my two hellish weeks at work.  Every month, there are two weeks of unrelenting work and deadlines, followed by two weeks of catching up on all the other stuff you couldn't even look at during the pressure weeks.  This has been an exercise in humility for me.  I don't much like exercises in humility.  But the rewards are always worth it.

I will pray to keep my thoughts on others today.  Because if I think about myself for more than 2 minutes, it turns into something pathological.  But God never lets me down, if I just seek him.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Boards and Baby

My son texted me just as I was getting off the bus tonight.  He wanted me to come over and watch tiny baby girl while he and his friend were putting up a new fence.  Of course I was delighted to do so.  And then he grilled steaks and I got to eat outdoors with my tiny baby girl, her daddy (my son), and my son's friend who I have known since he was in high school.  He is older than my son and it was truly weird to consider that he is now pushing 40.  My daughter in law has been out of state for a training and will return tomorrow.  How perfectly delightful to just sit around with my son, as if that is the most normal thing in the world!

Today at work I had some time, so I decided to walk to the downtown noon meeting.  I am so thrilled to report that it was a good meeting.  I liked the feel of the room.  I liked that I met a woman there, and we walked back to our offices together.  She is also named Mary and has been sober for 20 years.  She said there are a lot of people in that group sober between 20 and 30 years.  How wonderful to not feel like an old, freakish relic.

While I was watching the baby, one of my sponsees called 3 times within 10 minutes.  I had opted not to answer because I wanted to just be with the baby.  After the 3rd call, I listened to the voice mail.  She is out of her mind with upset because a member of our group has gone out.  I believe she was sober 6 years.  And if I had to bet money on who would drink again, I wouldn't have bet on her.  My heart is broken.   I hope she can come back and just get sober and stay that way.  I called my sponsee and we talked about it.   Bless her heart.  Both of them.

I am so grateful tonight to be part of a family.  And a fellowship.

I will go to bed sober tonight and wake up that way tomorrow.  Thanks to the Grace of God.

Back to it...

Brand new aspen leaves
I am heading out of here and into a new day.  It is a beautiful day.  Spring time in the Rockies is a real crap shoot - normally it is very snowy.  Today it is expected to be 81º, sunny, and gorgeous.  I am wearing a linen skirt and sandals to work.  Very happy about this.

My new job is a challenge on many fronts.  First, because of the hours.  Second, because of the grueling boringness and incredible number of hard deadlines.  Third, the work is not even what I am good at.  Fourth, and maybe the most bothersome thing, is that I am working in a department with four other people - ranging in age from 28 to 33.  This is my first ever age crisis.  I am older than their parents!

The thing I find so bothersome about this is that I have noticed that my communication is full of references that mean nothing to them.  One day I said something and my boss gave me a blank look and said "I don't understand the reference."  Another time I told a co-worker that I don't like the appearance of a report because to me it looks like "green bar,"  none of them even know what "green bar" is.  Why would they?  While I was getting reports on green bar, they were in pre-school.  Please understand, I don't want to be young - I just want to be able to communicate with my co-workers.

Here is what I need to focus on:  * I have a job.  *Some parts of it are very good. *I love my boss, and she likes me.  *I have been assured that it will evolve and not be so grueling and boring.  *I love where I am in the organization - I think I can truly affect how we do things and deliver services to "needy" people.

I just need to focus on the positive.  And move forward.

And mostly ask God to show me how I can be helpful.

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.  Amen."  -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 76

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning

Yesterday I talked to my daughter and told her I was not going to be going to the Sunday Morning AA meeting.  I just needed one whole weekend where I didn't have an alarm set.  Waking to an alarm at 4 or 4:30 seven days a week is just tiring.

So I woke up on my own - at 5!  Boiled some water, poured it over some coffee in my little french press in a travel mug.  Got to the pool in time to have a mile done by 7 a.m.  Came home and ate some steel cut oats with some wonderful Krema peanut butter - Thank you Lou - I did not know about Krema and had virtually eliminated p.b. out of my life due to the sugar content.  Now I can have p.b. & oatmeal on days when I have big workouts.  I am waiting until it warms up a little and then I am going on a bike ride.  I want it to be warm because I want to wear a sleeveless bike shirt (or maybe even one of my running dresses which have big pockets in the back, just like a bike shirt).  At this point in the spring, I do not want to deal with a farmer's tan.

The sun is shining, the trees have leaves on them, my lawn looks like someone actually takes care of it (the someone is actually my neighbor and not me!), it will be warm enough for a nice bike ride, and then this afternoon, I am going to do some power-chilling.  I am going to sit outside and read a book.  Really.  I am.  I have promised myself this.

For lunch, I will have cold salmon and a simple salad.

For dinner, I will make chicken in paper with rosemary and greek olives.

Did I ever mention (she asks rhetorically because she knows she didn't!) that last weekend I told my fella I didn't want to see him anymore?  That was hard to do - I really did like him and he allegedly liked me.  But he didn't really treat me like he liked me and it was increasingly hurting my feelings.  I always say that when the picture doesn't add up based on the info I have, I probably don't have all the information.  I don't know what was up with him, but his verbals did not match his non-verbals and I don't want to experience hurt feelings all the time.  I think he is just someone who is either dishonest or is not really in touch with how he feels.  If you get to be 62 years old like that, odds are, you are not changing any time soon.

I am sad about this, but not broken hearted.  Maybe neither one of us liked each other a whole lot, but "on paper" we really looked good!  Both: recovering alcoholics, practicing Roman Catholics, in huge agreement on social and political issues.  I thought we could have love of an "educational variety."  But I think I might have just learned that wonderful "love at first sight" and being unable to keep your hands off each other, and deciding to get married in the first week of dating - maybe that is healthier than I thought it was.  At least it is real - for a while.  I think I am meant to be alone.  I have certainly prayed about this and sought counsel about it.  And I am alone.  And really, I am OK with that.

I am SO looking forward to this day and all that it may bring.  Another day to ask God to help me do his will.  I think he always comes through.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Morning

I talked with one of my old friends for a while last night on the phone.  She could tell how very frazzled I am.  It was 9:45, I was trying to fix something quick for dinner so that I could get to bed.  I told her I was tempted to just skip my running club this morning.  She encouraged me to do so.

I didn't wake up until it was light outside this morning!  It was fabulous.  And now I am slowly getting going.  I refuse to hurry to do anything today.  I am going to sit in on an icon class all day today.  It hurts me to go sit in a church basement when it is so glorious outside, but I will be glad once I am there.

Classic All-Cotton Slim Fit Supima® Oxford Dress ShirtLast night I got to see my old friend celebrate 29 years of sobriety.  He is someone so dear to me, first of all because he took me to my first meeting.  He was instrumental in my early sobriety as my first sponsor's boyfriend.  He was a hard-core tough-love (big on tough, and short on love) kind of guy back in the day.  I thought of that last night as he stood at the podium.  A grey haired, gentle voiced, still very handsome man - in his uniform - a blue Brooks Brothers oxford shirt, with heavy starch, a beautiful pair of tailored pants, shiny shoes, etc.  He has much the same story as I do with respect to our faith.  We cherish each other for that reason (and others).  Can you tell I have always been a little bit in love with him?  Well, I have and still am.

I ordered a book this week about introversion, and how this is a serious handicap in our society.  I have sat through meetings for the last three months and listened to people babble without answering questions.  I could see that they were "processing" the question and their answer while talking, and talking, and talking.  And I have come to the conclusion that this temperament is highly valued in our culture.  To me, it is a painful waste of time.  But these are very successful people and no one else seems to mind.

I am an introvert who feels comfortable sitting at my computer writing.  I have notebooks everywhere with my notes about everything.  This is how I "process."  I cannot sit in a huge meeting and come up with solutions.  I need to withdraw and work on it myself.  I can come back then with great solutions, but I cannot do it on the spot.  I believe that introverts have created much of what we value today - but we do not value this personality trait.  Blabbing endlessly and seemingly mindlessly is the way to go if you want to be seen as competent!  Look at US presidents and presidential candidates - glibly speaking, speaking, speaking and sounding good is apparently what we vote for.  - I only write about this here because I believe most bloggers are introverts and I think some of you will understand what I am talking of.

This is going to be a power weekend.  I am doing to do things to restore me.  I am utterly done-in by my job.  I almost brought my computer home this weekend but decided that would be foolhardy.

And that reminds me:  yesterday I arrived for a tour of a huge facility with a blister on my foot and no water.  I drink water constantly, so I was a bit panicked.  I told my boss that my failure to bring water was "foolhardy."  She looked at me and said "Who says that?  Foolhardy?"  I do.  I use strange and wonderful words all of the time - and the generational gap between us only exacerbates the weirdness of it all.  She finds me endlessly fascinating, in a good way.  And that is good.  She asked me the other day when I started being so "funny."  I told her I had always had a different way of looking at things and that has caused other people to see me as humorous - since early childhood.

Just like every good AA speaker says:  "I never felt like I fit in."  I know I am going to hear the story of my kind of alcoholic when the story starts like that.  I heard it last night.

Thank God we have each other, because no matter how well I am "blending" in the world, I still feel somewhat set apart.  It means the world to me to be with kindred souls in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thank You God.

(P.S. I am going out with a pony tail and no make up today!  Woot! - I still have bright red fingernails though)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Watching it Unravel

That's a photo of a car accident I was in a few years ago.
In order to get up early enough to go swimming tomorrow morning I need to go to bed right now.  I also need to not be blogging in the morning.

So, for tonight, I can tell you for sure:

  • I am grateful to be sober
  • I am grateful my son is home
  • I am grateful I got to have lunch with my daughter today
  • I am grateful I have a soft bed and nice pillows
  • I am grateful I get to go to a meeting tomorrow to celebrate the 29th birthday of the man who took me to my first meeting.  I <3 him.
  • I am grateful my boss thinks I am funny and smart
  • I am also grateful she told me she realizes I have a whole "other" skill set than the girl geniuses I am working with.  And that her boss knows that too.  
  • I am grateful that hair can put in a clip or in a pony tail to get it out of my face and off my neck.
  • And for a treadmill when it is just too cold to go outside.
  • I am grateful that my manicure still looks pretty good after 2 weeks!
I'm going to bed.  


I will wake up that way too.  And if you are a drunk like I am a drunk, no matter how I "feel," this is a good deal.  A miraculous deal.  Only by the Grace of God.  

Slogging through the week

Tulips, peonies, and dandylions.  The peonies are the only thing left from my house's former owner's garden.  My taste in gardens and hers were not very similar.  Those are the tulips I planted in the first weeks after moving here almost 11 years ago.

I am slogging through the week.  At a meeting at work yesterday a person I am coming to really admire said something like this:  "We are exactly where we should be in this process.  We are slogging through." Since this new process is what my new job is, it felt good to hear it described this way.  We are not skipping through it, we are slogging, and it is a tough slog.  Even the girl geniuses I work with are starting to have a tough time with it.  I am not happy that they are suffering, but I am glad I am not alone.

That phrase reminded me of the line in the big book that says we "trudge the road of happy destiny."  Not skip, not leap, not run.  We trudge.  Some days are happy, skippy, jumpy, and some days are a slow slog.

The real reward lies in trudging, slogging, through the tougher times.  We exercise our sobriety muscles.

There is something in "As Bill Sees It" about depression that I love.  I am three minutes past my time limit to write this, so I am not going to look it up right now.  But I will paraphrase.  We hold our face to the light, even though for the moment we do not see.

I am holding my face to the light.  Because I know that God is with me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flowers and Shoes

Sorry about the dreadful post this morning.  But that is just how it is.

I took 5 hours of vacation time today - the first time I have had off since staring my new job 3 months ago.  It felt wonderful to, first of all, sleep until it was light outside.  And then I sat outside this afternoon and smelled lilac blossoms.  I don't know if there is any smell I like better!

My back yard tulips are stunning this year.  The orange is so crazy bright - and I love bright orange!
Later I hopped into my car and drove to the store to get a pair of brown shoes.  Who knew it is so difficult to find a pair of brown flats?  I found a pair of beige flats which will work with brown or khaki pants and also a pair of sandals that I particularly like.  I can ill afford to buy shoes, but am I supposed to go to work in my bare feet?
In the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor:

I will survive.

God is in his heaven and he loves me - just like he loves you.

Razor Blades and Broken Glass

Some blogs are about puppy dogs and rainbows.  And there is a big audience for that.  God bless you.  Really.  I am not being sarcastic here.

Today it feels like razor blades and broken glass.  It feels much too difficult to get along with anyone.

I am a person with two (2) axis I diagnoses.  Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent - I am not going to include the longitudinal course specifier because I am not going to diagnose myself this morning.  However, I would tell you that I wouldn't call it "in remission."  I am going through a bout.

The other I write about every day.  And I hate the DSM-IV language for it, so I won't include it.  I am an alcoholic.  Who doesn't drink.  Thank you God!

Depression used to frighten me more than anything in the world.  Over the years, I have learned how to live with it for the most part.  I have written about it a million times here on the blog.  Exercise, good food, lots of sleep, alone time every day, social time every day.... etc., etc.  My new job and the endless hours working with people I don't know or feel comfortable with - yet - has thrown my self care totally off.  It will be three months in a few days and I am feeling the effects.

Yesterday I went to a spin class in the morning and got to work at 9:00 instead of the self-imposed 7 a.m. start I have adhered to for the last 3 months.  (It has more to do with bus schedules than a need to torture myself though).  Today I have a meeting I need to go to at 8:30 and the rest of the day I have scheduled as a vacation day.

I didn't realize I was digging myself into a dark hole of depression.  Now I do, and I will dig out again - please God.  I think this is very much what a relapse into active alcoholism would probably be like.  You just stop doing the things you need to do to stay sober and cruise along fine for weeks or months or even years, but suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere,  you realize you are drunk.  Thank God that has not happened to me.  I really do give God the credit for this because when I got sober I did not have the ability to keep up with anything for more than a couple of weeks.  Where did that ability come from?  Not from me.

I apologize to my true intended audience who might be wondering if they are alcoholic, thinking about going to AA, and looking for a blog written by a sober alcoholic.  I love the anonymous comments you leave.  I am, however, turning off the ability to leave anonymous comments.  I have a troll who is leaving stupid anonymous comments.  I am not in the mood to deal with them.  I really want to respond with a happy "fuck you."  But that wouldn't be nice, would it?  So I will do the next best thing and just avoid the whole thing.

If you really want to leave a comment, it is easy enough to set up a blogger account without an associated blog.  And then you can leave a comment.

Thanks and love to you all.


Monday, April 16, 2012

On Long Term Sobriety

Going out in my pajamas to take photos of flowers in the snow
Yesterday I went to my home group with my daughter.  It is funny that we have the same friends.  They are mostly all my age.  They are mostly all sober about the same length of time as me.  I can talk about my sobriety with gay abandon with them.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a psychiatrist for the first time in many years - well, except for those who are my friends and former co-workers.  I had never seen him before and he asked me a bit about my story.  When he asked me if I drank, I told him I had been sober for 27 and a half years.  (I don't know why he asked me that because in my chart the first diagnosis is "Alcohol Dependence - Sustained Full Remission.")  I got to talk to him about that silly diagnosis too.  I am certainly NOT dependent upon alcohol - but I am certainly an alcoholic.  That is the problem with ..... oh, never mind....

He asked me about my sobriety.  He was thrilled that I have been sober for so long.  And I started crying.  Because I have gotten to be almost defensive about my length of sobriety.  As if you can't say how long you have been sober without it turning into a pissing contest with someone who is sober for a year or two and wants to judge the quality of your sobriety or thinks it is some kind of well, contest.  I truly don't get it.  I don't preface every sentence with it.  I don't boast about it.  But it is a grateful fact of my life.  I could weep each time I really truly think about it.  Like I did on Dave's post today - he said he hadn't had a beer in the middle of the night for eight and a half years.  If you drank like I did, and I believe Dave did, eight and a half years is freaking incredible!  A miracle!  More miraculous than a lunar landing!

I always encourage people to "be where they are" especially with respect to their sobriety.  I loved my first couple of years of sobriety and I am glad I had people around who told me to enjoy it and not waste my life away wishing for more years of sober time, and therefore wishing to be older!

I am grateful that at my home group, I can actually feel free and not apologetic about my time sober.  It is a revelation to me after years in a group where I felt defensive about it!

As one of my old buddies says, "it gets greater later."   I believe that, but I also believe that any day of sobriety is a miracle and each day is to be relished.  I also know on a cellular level that I could be drunk tomorrow.

But not today.   By the Grace of God.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

5 Minutes on a Sunday Morning

I have five minutes to write this - before I head out on a snowy April morning to pick up my daughter and go to an AA meeting.

I was amazed when I heard an intro to the next person on the Cable News this morning.  I thought - O.M.G., that is ______!  My friend from AA!  And after the commercial break - there he was!  On my television set!  He and I have had some respectful disagreements over the years, but they have always been respectful.   I have written about him a few times on the blog.  And amazingly enough, everything he said this morning was right on in my opinion.  I'll find his e-mail address later today and write to him.  Oh, I was so proud of my ______!

So, I need to go.

I plan to stay sober today and I hope you do too.  It's a good day for it.  Thanks to a loving God.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Food Stuffs

Maybe it was because I had just gotten done with my run this morning, but when I was standing in line for the cashier, I just thought my groceries were so pretty!  I took their picture!  I love a low carb, high fat diet.  That's what works for me.  And I couldn't help but notice that sickly extremely overweight people at the store were buying diet pop, no-fat soy milk (with sugary flavor), boneless/skinless chicken breasts, and all manner of no-fat food.  How can that be good for a person?

OK, enough of that - I know most people don't agree with me, but I also know that the diet industry is still going strong.  It is my belief that they keep going strong by keeping people on no-fat, high carb, highly sweet food.  Which just makes people crazy and cravy.

Tonight I will happily eat my roasted chicken, with skin, and have a salad of romaine leaves with a dressing I make out of blue cheese, mayo, sour cream, and olive oil.  Oh heavenly.  I guess I wasn't done talking about food after all.  Perhaps I shall try to change the subject again....

The run was awesome this morning.  This afternoon, I go sit in on an icon class.  I have been allowed to sit in and not pay.  Hopefully I will be able to assist in some small way.  I will also work on my rescue icon.  I think I have written about him.  Someone else started John the Baptist but made such a mess of him that she abandoned him.  I am trying to rescue him.  It is a labor of love.

Yesterday I worked at home.  People always say "oh, how nice!"  Well, in my job it isn't so nice.  I sit in my new work area in my basement and work staring at a monitor - yesterday for 11 hours straight.  Not that fun.  I hope to God this job gets easier some day.
One good thing about working in my new work area in the basement is that I get a view of my garden. My lilac bush is in full bloom right now.  I still have tulips going strong.  And see that little baby aspen tree in the corner?  I love that little thing.  It just popped up last year.  By next year it will be a real tree!

OK, I can't string any meaningful words together this morning.  I am going to take a nap before heading across town to my class.

Sure am grateful to be sober.  Fully engaged in life.

Thank you God.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thank You

One of the most valuable things I have learned in Alcoholics Anonymous is to be grateful in all circumstances.  I am not by nature a very optimistic, hopeful, and grateful person.  My default is a cynical look at the glass half empty and maybe conclude that the liquid within is poisonous.  

When I was sober about a year someone broke into my (brand new) car and stole my car stereo and all my music collection on tapes (it was 1985!).  Funnily, they left all of my Talking Heads tapes.  The police officer even agreed that the person obviously lacked taste in music!  

I was livid.  I was feeling unsafe.  I was feeling that the world was conspiring against me. 

I called my sponsor.  She had the nerve to ask me to write a gratitude list!  The nerve of some of these AA people!  I was indignant!  

But as a person who wished to stay sober, I followed her instruction.  I sat down at my dining room table with pen and paper and grudgingly started on a gratitude list.   I still remember it to this day because it was such a seminal moment in my sobriety.  
  1. I have plenty of cigarettes
  2. I have a pot of coffee on the stove
  3. No one can steal my bathtub
  4. I am so easily entertained!  
And then I learned that if you look hard enough, there is always something to be grateful for.  When I learned that my life improved immeasurably.  

I also think that God really likes it when we thank him.  When I wonder at how exactly God loves me, I look at how I love my children.  And I know he is infinitely more loving than that.  I like it when my kids tell me what they want - because I want to provide that if I can.  And then I love it when they thank me.  I think that is a good place to start with God.

So, Thank you God for all the abundant blessings in my life today.  And the challenges.  

And thank you Dave for sharing your "thank you" jpg.  Let us see how this experiment works!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Normal is the New Awesome

My son brought me this beautiful cross from Ireland.  I love crystal.  I love crosses.  I love candles.  I love my son (most of all).

How incredibly awesomely normal to sit around at his house, eat barbequed pork chops, play games, and let the baby entertain us.  I don't care how many babies we have seen grow up - we all roar with laughter when she says "uh-oh!"  or says "ca-ca" instead of chocolate.  There is just something about my family being complete again.  I sat there and heard myself laugh - and thought I haven't really heard or felt that for a while.  Oh, I laugh, but not the relaxed laugh that comes straight out of my soul.  Being with my family.  MY family.

Oh thank you God.

I am glad I am a sober mom and nana.  I can't imagine what this night (or any other) would be like if I were still drinking like a sot.  I don't think I would be invited to my son's.  Really, I don't.

I am so grateful I am part of my family.  And that we are all within a couple of miles of each other when we lay our heads down to sleep.  All is well in the world.

Thank you God.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Confessions of a Grumpy Woman in an Election Year

There is an election here in the United States of America in seven months.  If it were seven days, that would be too long to endure this torture.

But what kills me - kills me - is the fact that some people feel so absolutely cock sure in their opinion that they are sure no one could disagree with them.  I do disagree with those frequently.  But I shut up.  Because my blog is not about politics and I hate to find things to divide us.  There are enough of those already without looking for them.

I have long experience living in this country as a fully engaged citizen.  I have been obsessed with the news and all things political for many many years.  I had one opinion at one time - and then I lived in in another country where I saw an extreme example of the things I thought I believed in.  I changed my mind.  That was 22 years ago.

I work with a woman who thinks light-hearted conversation involved talking about what "The __insert political party here    did/said/thought."  As if she could just know that everyone is of the same political party.  Not so my friend, not so.  And I am not looking for a fight, so I zip my lip.

And some of my favorite bloggers insist on insulting my political party.  Why is that necessary?  Is your blog supposed to be about politics?  Could you just talk about what YOU believe in without being insulting to others?

It is always a good idea to not assume that everyone agrees with you.  It is just good "interpersonal 101."

I would mention the 10th tradition, but you could rightly tell me that I mention my religion here.  But I am sure you have never heard me talk about "stupid _insert other religion here."  I am "quick to see where religious people are right."  Just like the big book tells me to.

Could we try to tread lightly for the next seven months?  Please?

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Day in Another Time

I wish I could take a photograph of a beautiful sunrise.  It loses nearly everything in the translation.  Especially from a bus window!  This was a huge orange ball floating right on the horizon this morning.  And I was so thrilled to see my Denver in the middle right of the photo, just a hint of a town looming.  I also love that even in that little suggestion of my town, I know exactly where my building is in relation to one of the buildings.  I can look in the morning and know where I am going.

My son woke up in this same town this morning.  No longer half a world away.  Right here.  He has to go get the baby, who has been with her maternal grandmother in another state, so I won't see him until Thursday.  I am invited to THEIR house.  How awesome is that!  I am so thrilled that he is home.

Tomorrow I shall go swimming before work.  Did I mention that I have an Olympic Distance Triathlon in just 2 months from today?  I am not at all ready and not sure I can get ready, but I am certainly going to try.  I talked one of my friends into registering with me (back last November), or I think I would just ditch the whole idea.  I have a half marathon at the end of June that I am actually excited about.  It starts at over 10,000 ft. elevation (at a ski area), and ends at 8,500 feet.  Both of those are high elevations to be running around in.  But going downhill is such fun!

I had my HOA meeting tonight.  Only three of us showed up because the rest of them are feuding!   HOA boards are the weirdest things on earth.  I joined mine and quit just short of two years later.  I hated it.  But a few months after that, I missed it.  And then the president called and asked me to come back.  That was four years ago!  I like knowing what is going on - and I also like that I can sometimes be the voice of reason when they start getting full of themselves, which they do from time to time.  I like being civic minded - because for too many years of my life I was all about me and little else.  By the grace of God sometimes I get to act like a real grown up human being.  Sometimes.

So, it was a good day, the beginning of a new era for my son and his wife.  And I am grateful.  So grateful.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The warm before the storm

I went out for a glorious bike ride after work tonight.  I was home at 3:30 this afternoon, which felt like a little bit of heaven to me.  The retreat was OK.  It is so weird to be with a bunch of women who are all younger than my daughters - my youngest children.

Tonight I was playing Words with Friends and played the word "hoe."  The person I was playing with sent me a message "that is a bad word."  Are you shitting me?  Really?  I wrote back, "it is a garden tool!"   What kind of world do people live in where "hoe" is slang for "whore," and not a thing to dig with?

Minutes ago, I got a text message from my son that said "we are home, I will call you tomorrow."  How awesome!  I could not be happier.

And on that happy note, I am going to lay my sober head on my pillow and thank God for another sober day.

One Minute

Honestly, I have one minute to write this.   I am stealing it from the time I need to get ready to be out of here in 35 minutes.

OK, and it took me 2 minutes just to load the photo and write this.

I have to go to a "team building" retreat at my boss' house today.  Oh, Lord, help me.  I talked with my brother over the weekend who was a personnel director for a huge organization - and retired in the late 90s.  He said "They aren't still doing that, are they?"  Yep.  He said when it was new in the 70s, he attended a week long class about 'team building' and said it was painful.  Nothing has changed about the pain level.  Oh well, my fellow workers range from 28 years old to 32 years old.  This is all new to them.  I pray I will be able to act enthusiastic and let them have 20 years or more to figure out this stuff is phony and stupid.

Gotta go.

Plan to stay sober today and hope you all do too.  By the Grace of God.  By the Grace of God.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Morning at Mary Christine's

I have been to church, where I sat by a couple of ladies I have gotten to know over the last year or two.  That was lovely.  By the time I was out of church, the sun was shining madly and the day is perfectly spring.  I have flowers all over my couple little square inches of ground.  Multi-colored tulips in the back, now blooming for their eleventh season - I planted them within a couple of weeks of moving in.
In the front, the periwinkle is blooming profusely.  It looks so pretty.
Then there are my new white tulips.  Brilliant white, with the sun shining, doesn't photograph very well, but they do look very dramatic.
And then inside, I am beginning preparations for Easter dinner.  There is a beautiful leg of lamb for which I will prepare an olive and rosemary paste in a minute.

My son is in Ireland with his wife.  I currently have no relatives in Afghanistan or Iraq - and that feels like a miracle.

I am sober.  My last horrible binge was during Holy Week in 1983, and I was so sick I was unable make Easter dinner on Sunday.  My children were so little they don't remember things like that - but I wonder if it left a psychic mark.  It did on me anyway.  (And if you wonder why I remember such "bummer" things on a beautiful, happy morning - it is necessary if I wish to stay gratefully sober.)

Praise God I no longer live like that!

Happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Saturday Morning

Look at what time I was at the pool this morning!  And now I have three minutes to write this before I head out to meet my running group.  It's a semi-brick day.... it would be a "brick" workout if I went straight from the pool to the bike or to the run.  Today there will be a 2 hour transition time - which would not work in a race - at all.

This morning at the gym I saw two men from AA.  One on the way in, and one on the way out.  I always find it joyful to see AA people interspersed in my life.  One of them is my age and is competing in a body building contest in May - he looks great!  The other one is usually at the gym very early in the morning, so I see him a lot when I am there.

It is good to be an AA member.  It is good to be sober.  It is super good to know I am not alone in this.  Oh, the wonderful people I have met over the years in AA.  Really, they are like no other.

Time's up!

Have a wonderful Holy Saturday.

I think I shall stay sober, by the grace of God, today - and I hope you do too.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

It is Good Friday.  A day I normally take off work.  And go to church.  I may have time to go to Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral at noon today, but I would not bet on it.  I feel like this new job has absolutely consumed me for the last ten weeks and I have experienced little else.  I feel like I have missed Lent, which is heartbreaking to me.  Last year my Lenten resolve was to go to church every single day.  If not for Mass, then for Eucharistic Adoration - and I did it.  I had to juggle my schedule on a daily basis to do it, but I gladly did so.  This year there is absolutely no flexibility because of my workload and deadlines.

So, to process this, I will just say that being consumed by a job is an entirely different thing than being consumed by alcoholism or addiction.  I don't feel sick, guilty, or ashamed - I just feel tired.  And I know "this too shall pass."

I was the first one hired in my new department - I was there 2 months before anyone else.  Now there are three others.  They are all about 12 years old.  Prodigies.  Cute.  They all brought their degrees to hang on their cubicle walls and today I am going to do that too.  Why not.  It IS nice to commiserate with these women about working in a cubicle instead of an office.  We have all leapt onboard for this job which has been a lateral move for all of us, in which we have all actually LOST money because of the expense of working downtown - just for the opportunity to be part of this new, highly visible, and exciting new department.  On Monday we are having a retreat at the boss' house.  In preparation, we have a list of questions to answer.  And then a list of three things about us that "nobody knows."  Oh crap.  I SO don't want to do "team-building."

I might be a tad grouchy this morning.  I think I have already worked at least 40 hours this week, and have another 10 to go.  I am a bit old to be working like this.  I am a big believer in getting your job done in 8 hours or less a day.  I think if it takes you 10 or 11 hours every day there is something wrong - either you are incompetent, or you are overworked.  I chose to believe the latter in my case.

Yesterday someone came by and left the kind of comment that I kind of think is like a turd on the front lawn.  It was from a rehab, of course.  This person said something like when I am ready to get sober I should click the link to their website.  If you are going to spam like that, could you at least read the header of the blog?  Mine tells you my sobriety date - 10,117 days ago.

OK, I could go on and on, but I have to get on the treadmill and get ready for work.  Blogging about my irritation is probably not helpful to anyone - including myself.

I have already done my prayer and meditation this morning, but I think I will do a little more.  I know that no matter how I "feel," God is here with me and is always willing to extend his mercy - if I ask for it.

I think I will stay sober today, and I hope you all do too.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Where I am

This morning I have one minute to write this and then 45 minutes to get completely ready for work and out of here!  Good luck to me!

I was so fortunate to have a bunch of old men who were sober a long time around me when I was newly sober.  One of them stressed that we should enjoy where we are.  He was sober over 30 years and absolutely astounded me when he said he would rather be sober 30 days and be 30 years old again.

So, I resolved to enjoy where I am.  Appreciate it.  Try to relish it.

Right now I need to remember that on my new job.  I was accustomed to being an expert.  To being the resident historian because I had been there so long.  To doing my job like breathing because I had done everything so many times.  And in the last couple of years I was bored to death.

Now life is stimulating!!!  I am new to not only a job, but an office, a building, a downtown area.  I don't know where the nearest post office is - I realized the other day when I was trying to mail my Easter cards.  I don't know my job inside and out.  To compound this, I had Microsoft Office 2010 installed in my first week on the job so even Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are not familiar.

I have to remember to enjoy where I am.  I am new.  I can ask questions!  I am not expected to know everything!  These are not things that I would prefer, but I am sure these are things I can learn from.

I have spent 8 minutes on this, so I have 38 minutes to get out of here.  (don't check my math, it is probably wrong.)  Yikes!  

I am pretty sure I will stay sober today, thanks to the Grace of a loving God.  I hope you all do too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Eye Contact with an Alcoholic

A photo while stopped at a light on my way home from work yesterday.  I love the guy crossing the street looking at the sky.
OK, I have been meaning to write about this for two months now.  And right now, I have about 7 minutes to do so.  I was in the pool before 5 a.m. this morning and will drive to work again today because it makes my life easier in many ways.

But while riding the bus, within the first couple of days, back in January, I saw a man I know.  He is the husband of a former neighbor who was also one of my university instructors.  She wanted to hire me at one point to be her protege, which would have been an incredible opportunity, but didn't pay well enough for me.  Weirdly, when I was looking at this house to buy, I realized she lived across the street. Our relationship was essentially ruined once I moved in.  I honestly think she resented having someone she knew professionally in the neighborhood.  Well, too bad, I didn't move here because she lived here!

Anyway, after a few years, she met a man on an airplane and a few months later, he moved across country to live with her.  They were a couple of party animals.  That's OK - it is none of my business.

Until her husband showed up at my AA group.  I had "the talk" with him - that I would never share with anyone that I saw him there.  We were friendly.  He was in trouble with a DUI, etc.  After a while, he stopped coming to the meeting.   And after while longer, they moved to another and much posher neighborhood.

Another neighbor hangs out with them and is always talking about the great parties and how they share cocktails, etc.  So, I have a pretty good idea he is drinking again.  Again, none of my business.  (and furthermore, a DUI doesn't necessarily make you an alcoholic!)

But he rides the same bus as I do!  When I first saw him, I smiled and prepared to say "hello," but he just looked away.  He never makes eye contact with me.  Now when the bus stops where he gets on, I just concentrate on my knitting or my iPhone.  I really have no need to talk to him - it is just stupidly awkward.

I have had people run away from me in the grocery store, etc.  I am an AA member and have been in this community for a long time.  Many, many people have seen me in AA meetings.  And I guess if you have seen me and known me as an AA member, and now you are drinking, you no longer want to make chit chat with me on the bus or at the grocery store.  That's OK.

Just weird.

Thank God there is no one in this world I have to avoid today.  I can walk out of here with my head held even.  Not high, not low, just even.  I am just a child of God today.  A sober child of God.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Double White Tulips

As I suspected, snow and freezing temperatures have come and my little flowers are left exposed to the elements.  Many of them are tougher than they seem and will probably be OK.  Others will be damaged.  It is life in Colorado - in the 80ºs on Sunday, in the 30ºs on Monday.

I read blogs this morning and found many of them touching.  Stories of the kindness of strangers, and the way we touch each other.  Anyedge told of something that happened with this neighbor, go over and read it - it is beautiful.

Maybe it is the mood I am in.  My job is ganging up on me again.  I am feeling old and feeble and slow.  I worked for 10 hours straight yesterday and still ended up with a product I am not proud of.  I wrote my boss a pitiful e-mail last night about how I know it isn't a finished product, but it was what I had at the deadline.   I had my performance review yesterday and she told me I am doing a good job and she told me that my agonizing over every little imperfection is not productive - I told her I knew that - it is my character defect.  But she said what I suspected - I come up high in a final score because of my interpersonal skills and the relationships I have already built with the people I have to work with. AA did not teach me how to analyze data (I paid $50,000 for an education to teach me that) - but it did teach me how to have relationships.

So, here is how I go out from here into the world this morning.  Knowing that I impact people.  I have a choice on whether that is going to be a positive thing or a negative thing.   I read about a stranger giving Lou a sweater so that she could visit her son.  The source of the clothing might have been a bit dubious - but a stranger stopped minding her own business and made a difference to Lou - she is still talking about it years later.

Anyedge made a difference in his neighbor's life.  Just minding his own business.  Not even aware that he was anything but alone in his own house, playing his piano.

I recall the conversation my daughter and I had in the supermarket bathroom, unaware that anyone was listening.  Talking about waiting in stopped traffic for over an hour.  I told her we ought to be praying for the person who was in the accident instead of bitching about our "misfortune" in being stuck in traffic on a hot day.  She agreed.  When I stepped out of the stall, there was a 13 year old girl whose mother's suicide leap off an overpass had caused the interstate to be closed.  I know someone who knows her and she still talks about us.  We made a tiny difference in a horrible day that changed the life of a little girl.

And then I always recall another supermarket encounter.  I get extremely grouchy at the store, I want to be in and out.  I know where everything is.  I have a list.  But there was an old man in front of me everywhere I went.  I decided to smile instead of frown at him.  He was at the laundry detergent, right in front of where I needed to be.  I asked him if I could help him with something.  He said his wife didn't tell him exactly what brand to get, but he described the kind of detergent she used.  I pointed him to what I thought she might want.  He was in front of me at the checkout.  And then in front of me when I was trying to get to my car.  He was parked next to me.  He came over and thanked me for helping him.  He said he had to learn how to shop for groceries since his wife was just diagnosed with some hideous form of cancer and was not expected to live long.  All I could say when I drove away was "Thank you God" for the fact that I did not behave like myself - a hurried frazzled lunatic woman - but behaved like a human being who cares more about her fellows than her own very important schedule.

This morning I will head out of here not worried about my job performance or my elderly feebleness and will instead look at putting a smile on my face and a kind note in my voice. I will shoo the irritation right out of my life and instead will look at ways to be of service to God and my fellows.

Because you never know.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Looking forward

In this photo, the foreground is brand new green leaves on a new aspen tree that just popped up last year.  The background is a crabapple tree of the neighbors.  It is a riot of color out there.  And tomorrow it is supposed to snow.  I just hope it doesn't get cold enough to kill all of the little new things that got tricked by warm weather to burst forth.

Tomorrow I shall return to work.  I worked for a couple of hours this afternoon.  I have some fear about making my deadlines this week.  I have had such a hard time for the last two months.  Theoretically, it should be easier every month - but that is only if everything doesn't change and my people keep changing things so I am constantly redesigning.

I remember as a child the "Sunday night feeling."  It was a horrible feeling of impending doom.  I wonder if kids still feel that way.  It wasn't a simple feeling of "I don't want to go to school tomorrow," it was sheer terror of my inadequacies and what new trauma that would bring.  Probably if I were a kid today I would be diagnosed with a learning disability of some sort.  But it was the 50s and 60s and the priests came and told me it was a sin to waste my God given intelligence.  Somehow they knew I was intelligent but couldn't teach me?  So I not only felt inadequate but guilty about it.

When I was graduating from high school the last thing on earth I wanted to do was go to more school, so I didn't.

Imagine my surprise to be 10 years sober, 43 years old, and find that I was an honors student at a real university!   And seven years later, I was the proud recipient of a master's degree.  I am still amazed by that.

So, back to tonight, I don't have dread or the feeling of impending doom.  But I am a bit nervous about getting my work done this week.  I don't believe I have ever had a job with so many hard deadlines.

This morning my daughter and I went to my homegroup.  She knows a bunch of people there too.  People who know us separately look at us and get a shocked look on their faces.  That's your daughter! Yep.  She sure is.  And luckily for me, there are people in that group who have known me for long enough to tell her that they remember me when I was her age and I was just as nutty.

A bunch of people I would normally not "mix" with asked us to breakfast - and I hate to admit that I would have declined if not for daughtie.  So, I went out for breakfast with a bunch of people which was fun.  I got to have a really interesting conversation with a man approximately my age, who has been sober for about as long as I have - I don't recall ever meeting him before.  All the young pups went out to smoke and he and I discussed our kids.  His oldest committed suicide last year.  His middle child has her own problems.  And so does his youngest.  We talked about how much we love our kids and how young they were when we got sober and how we had hoped that we wouldn't have caused so much damage.  Oh well.  We can wish all we want, but we do some major damage when we warp a home out of any semblance of sanity with our alcoholism.  And we both agreed that our early years of sobriety were the hardest on the family.

We both bought into AA being a "selfish program,"  and both of us could agree that we neglected our families.  Regrets.  You can never get that time back with your kids.

I guess I could sit here and write for hours more, but I need to get myself ready for another work week. I am grateful for that.  And everything else too.

Thank you God.

April First

I have white tulips!  Now, granted, they would be much prettier in the daylight.  I was out in the dark morning, in my pajamas, sitting on the ground taking photos of tulips.

This is what they looked like when I planted them in the fall.  I have a deep love for tulips for many reasons:  my mother loved them; they are harbingers of spring; they are to me a sign of stability.  When I was married to my last husband, we moved so much that in the end I wanted two things: to be able to wake in the night and know the way to the bathroom without lights and to be able to plant something in the ground in the fall and still be there to see it come up in the spring.  

The tulips I planted eleven years ago when I moved into this house are still coming up every spring.  They are yellows and reds and occasionally orange.  Later I came to want something a little fancier than that, so I planted some pale pink tulips in the front of my house.  They were so beautiful people walking by would stop and comment on them.  Suddenly my neighbors were planting bulbs in the fall! I didn't know that the hybrid (or fancy) tulips don't last forever like the more prosaic bulbs.  So, my pale pink tulips flamed out after five or six years.  I replaced them with white bulbs last fall.  I hope I will like them as much, but I don't think they will be as spectacular as the pink!  

What's this got to do with recovery from alcoholism?  In my mind, just about everything.  
  • By the grace of God, I am no longer living from one crisis to another and have the luxury of brain space and energy to devote to tulip bulbs
  • As a totally unexpected side effect of being employed for many years in a row (thank you God), I have been able to remain in my house for almost 11 years.  Therefore I can plant things and watch them grow
  • Because I am sober, I can be a "nice" old lady instead of a drunken lunatic inside a ramshackle dwelling.
The grace of God seems to have no bounds.  But I'll keep pushing.

Have a great sober first day of April, 2012.  I will too.  Going in a few minutes to pick up my daughter to go to my homegroup with me!  What could be better?