I’m sick, and I think it’s hay fever, even though it should be deep midwinter in my part of the world. It’s almost 70 degrees, sunny. Spring bulbs are coming up. It’s frightening.
Along with so much else these days. I remember sitting in a political science class in 1984(ish) and realizing the danger of the nuclear weapons the world had produced by then. Frightening. There’s so much more now, and it’s so much more dangerous. I don’t understand why some people in the United States don’t care if the bumble bee becomes extinct, and why their supporters don’t care.
In other news, nine days from now my son won’t have his 29th birthday. He was a leap year baby! Born to this alcoholic, never yet endangered by my alcoholism. Given that, I should have more faith in miracles than I do.
It’s Friday and I’ve found I’m “alone” in management at work. This is something that will increase in my life over the next ten years as my work partner of almost 20 years retires and probably won’t be replaced in the same capacity. Really, I’m far from “alone.” I work for a big agency with 20-30 staff people just at my site, and many managers above me readily available. Still, hearing that my immediate manager will be off and my partner being off spark a fear reaction in me. I will breathe a sigh of relief at the end of this day that I made it through, which is just goofy.
Trying to think of how to embrace this day enthusiastically and confidently (because I am competent and should be confident). Thinking of the Saint Francis prayer because that’s the next piece of program stuff I should consider. I’ve long visualized a “channel of peace” that extends from the heavens down to me. But the darkness/light, despair/hope, doubt/faith rubric is hard for me except in the most dire of situations. Today I want to bring faith to overcome my own doubt. I am so blessed and so fortunate to have the ability to help people at least a little bit every single day at work. If I’m “alone,” “at the top,” my attitude will be the most important one here today.
Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace . . .
PS added this evening: I nearly had to evacuate 60 individuals with multiple, severe disabilities and many many staff into the cold, cold morning, as a bathroom fan stopped working, heated up and started smoking. Whew.
A little bit better and a little bit better, inch by painful inch.
Carole and I had the dining room painted and wallpapered. It was the last room we hadn’t painted since we moved in…..twelve years ago now? It looks great, and with Konmari we’re getting rid of lots of stuff. But not enough. My work is good. My daughter is buying a house, and that is both good and bad. I’ll confess here that it breaks my heart a little how far away she lives. Of course I’m grateful that she’s happy and healthy and that all it well with her. It hasn’t always been and I take not one minute for granted. But I miss her, and I can’t help wishing she was here and buying a house and having a baby…..That’s not my reality. Step Seven tells me I’m not being humble, pining for things I don’t have. So I aim to completely eradicate the pining, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it completely.
Three weeks into the new administration I have lessened my despair and heartache a little bit. I’m taking constructive action and I’ll do that every day for the rest of my life. Step Seven also tells me that I learn to be the way I should be through the pain of character building. And while I do view character building as something worth while in and of itself, as the Step promises, it seems like nothing gets my muscles moving like heartache and heartbreak and despair. So here I am. Sober, grateful, and moving forward, inch by painful inch.
Last week at this time I was staying awake to leave for the Women’s March on Washington at one in the morning. When I first heard about the march I had said to Carole, “Let’s go.” And Carole, being Carole, said, “Let’s get a bus and 54 of our best friends to go too!” It was grueling, to say the least. My daughter was there but I didn’t get to see her. I live a good distance from Washington and I’m a very poor sleeper so I ended up literally not sleeping for days traveling there and back. I remember the old AA adage that no one dies from a lack of sleep and I didn’t want to be the first.
It was very difficult, and I frequently got overwhelmed with sadness at the reason we all went there. That said, it was uplifting and amazing and I’m energized to fight, fight, fight.
Every day I take at least ten minutes to fight this ridiculous president. My idea is to make my call, write my letter, etc etc, and leave it, but I spend much more mental energy on it daily than ten minutes. I want to cut that way down, because the mental energy I spend is not healthy or constructive. I’ve subscribed to the New York Times on my Kindle in an effort to get informed and spend that energy in a constructive way, and to support the Times, which relentlessly bashes those who need to be bashed.
I’ve gone maybe my longest time without a meeting. I couldn’t go to my Saturday night meeting, coming back from the march. I wanted to go Monday but my stomach was too upset. The rest of the week I didn’t try. I’ll go tomorrow to my home group and I’m not really worried about it, just recording it here. I’ve been sober for 32 years. I plan, one day at a time to never drink again and to always be an active member of AA. I just didn’t go to a meeting for approximately two weeks.
An AA friend wrote and deleted a Facebook post, but I read it. She asked how all this worrying about things that haven’t happened yet goes along with One Day at a Time and other AA tenants. It doesn’t, and when I see worry in myself I try to turn it into something constructive. My ideal is fight serenely. Because I am a good AA, but this is an emergency. Changing the things I can’t accept if they are indeed changeable is a good thing. AA gave me life and I’m living it.
In my previous post I quoted every place the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve mention ego. I don’t pretend to know what the common understanding of ego was at they time they were written, or what Bill W knew and thought about Freud or anything else. To me, ego in those books seems to refer to myself, sometimes my high regard for myself. The books also say that lots of us, when drinking and when we stop, have too high a regard for ourselves, or alternately, or at the same time, too low a regard for ourselves. I’m especially struck by the passage that says, “Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come straight out of painful ego-puncturing.”
Drinking, I was more on the depressive side and apt to think very poorly of myself. This too is a sign of an ego that needs to be punctured. Whatever my problems, I was ultimately willing to risk my life and yours by drinking when I knew what terrible consequences resulted. I didn’t, because I couldn’t, do any real work on myself, do anything meaningful to improve my life or to improve myself.
Now I’ve been sober for a long, long time. I’m sure I have a better perspective on my ego, more humility and more of a sense of my right size and right place. Yet I struggle mightily with this, especially now. Applying this part of the program to my present unhappiness tells me, for one thing, that if I had a healthy ego, I wouldn’t be so badly affected by world events. Angry, disappointed, heartbroken even, but not so crushed and shattered. I believe in the value of ego-puncturing and at this point I truly welcome the pain that will bring me a newer attitude and a newer outlook, and I know I will be privileged way beyond what I deserve to experience this yet again.
First, the places in the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve where ego is mentioned:
He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. -Big Book page 61
They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. Big Book page 73
After we came to A.A., we had to recognize that this trait had been an ego- feeding proposition. In belaboring the sins of some religious people, we could feel superior to all of them. 12 and 12 page 30
This, of course, is the process by which instinct and logic always seek to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual develop- ment. 12 and 12 page 36
The problem is to help them discover a chink in the walls their ego has built, through which the light of reason can shine. 12 and 12 page 46
Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. 12 and 12 page 53
ALL OF A.A.’s Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires . . . they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few Steps are harder to take than Five. 12 and 12 page 55
Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come straight out of painful ego-puncturing. 12 and 12 page 74
Over the years, every conceivable deviation from our Twelve Steps and Traditions has been tried. That was sure to be, since we are so largely a band of ego-driven individ- ualists. Children of chaos, we have defiantly played with every brand of fire, only to emerge unharmed and, we think, wiser. 12 and 12 page 146
I realized that my five-dollar gift to the slippee was an ego-feeding proposition, bad for him and bad for me. 12 and 12 page 163