Ego continued

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.

Ego

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

 

December 28, 2016 (this day)

Hillary Clinton Hair -Celebrity Hair Changes

My co worker’s mother died the other day, a few days before Christmas.  She was seven years older than me, in her early 60s.  She was an addict.  About a week before she died, she overdosed, and she told the people at the hospital, “Can’t you see I just want to die?”  So then she did, and this time no one found her in time to stop her.

I went to the funeral parlor and there I saw that the dead woman had many of the things I want, that I think would make me happy(er).  She was there (dead) in a family funeral parlor.  She had a local, large, extended family.  She had, I think, five children, and many grandchildren.  Two of them were little girls that looked a lot like her.  There they were, just after Christmas, at their family funeral parlor at the viewing of their grandmother who killed herself at sixty one.

I understand that I really know nothing of her experience.  She had a rougher, less privileged upbringing than I did, I know that for sure.  The reason it struck me so and the reason I’m writing about it today is because I so often covet.  Maybe because of my age?  No, because my adult children say they don’t want children.  They are still young enough that they could change their minds but I have to accept that they may not.  I have to “count my blessings” and memorize my gratitude list.  I am so fortunate and so grateful.  And the number one thing has to be gratitude for my sobriety.

I went to a meeting where they read part of the 12 and 12 that asked, “can we accept failure or success without despair or pride?”  Lately, for me, well, no, I can’t.  I’m still full of despair and fear and all kinds of every other ugly thing because of the election.  I’m not giving up and I’m not dropping out but I am just so frequently so sad.  How much is normal?  Natural?  Therapeutic?  Acceptable?  Not dangerous?  None, I think.  None.

I see the ideal and I accept the plan.  Accept defeat without despair.  Any minute now….

December 24, 2016 (this day)

At my daughter’s for the holiday, I’m trying to be 100% and grateful and only 2% worried about leaving my dog at my daughter’s house while we go to my daughter’s fiance’s parents’ house for dinner tomorrow.  My wife and my son are with me, there’s no snow, and the dog took the car ride here well.  Monday we’ll drive home, Tuesday I’ll go to work, it’s all very very good.

I hope anyone reading this now has a sober Christmas.  Alcohol doesn’t play a part in mine, except when I worry about the drinking others do.  No regrets, no blank spots, nothing to be sorry about except the things I do in cold stone sobriety, which are so much less dreadful than the things I did drunk.

Fortunate Indeed (Step Three continued)

Therefore, we who are alcoholics can consider ourselves fortunate indeed. Each of us has had his own near-fatal encounter with the juggernaut of self-will, and has suffered enough under its weight to be willing to look for something better. So it is by circumstance rather than by any virtue that we have been driven to A.A., have admitted defeat, have acquired the rudiments of faith, and now want to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a Higher Power.

Completely true for me.  We all come to AA at different times, having suffered a little or a lot, for a long time or a short time.  Around my meetings these days people like to talk about “the gift of desperation.”  We acknowledge that we had to be faced no other hope of any other solution before we begin to accept AA and recover.  So, not because we are good people or being especially looked over by angels (my own opinion).

Now, can I today admit that I have been defeated by self-will in matters that don’t take on the seriousness and urgency of alcoholic drinking?

December 4, 2016 (this day)

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My cousin got married and I got to travel “home” for the wedding.  He married a man.  I cannot ever stop being grateful for sentences like that no matter what else happens.  My mother got sloppy drunk at the wedding.  She really ruined it for me with her drinking.  She’s old, and her eyesight is terrible, so dealing with her unsteady as well was a nightmare.  She passed out with icing on her face.  She fought me about using a wheelchair.  I threatened to leave her there if we had to call an ambulance, and I pushed her down into the wheelchair to get her back into the hotel.

I’m angry, for sure, and I’m grateful that my children have not experienced this with me.  My cousin was gracious and mentioned the many other times my mother got comically drunk at family functions.  I wonder if she remembers it.

The despair of the election is still all too real.  I talked to my daughter today and she said she’s kind of waiting for something terrible to happen to re-embrace the despair.  I’ll try to do that also, knowing I’ll often fail.  Last night after our meeting we went out with friends and all of our talk was about how terrible this is.  At the meeting, Carole brought up the topic of staying in the moment.  I know my moments have been mostly wonderful and at every moment, I’ve had everything I need and much, much more.  Right now I am warm and safe and have clean water.  If I have an emergency skilled people will respond quickly and try to set things right.  I have the awareness that I don’t want to give any more of my life over to despair because of this, and I have the tools to fight despair and I have lots of practice using them.  And I probably also have people in my life who can benefit by my example of doing it and doing it well.

Easy Does It

AA has no opinion on outside issues, hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.  I am not drawing the AA name into controversy.  I’m sharing how I, as an old-timer, deal with my life, which has taken an extremely hard knock due to happenings of a controversial nature.

My emotional life has.  It’s a quadruple blow, I’ve some to understand.  #1 I am a long time Hillary supporter.  #2 I am a long time feminist.  #3 The opponent is a disgusting human being, and the people who voted for him seem to like that or to not care.  #4 The unfairness of her getting so many more votes makes it seem unbearable.

Unbearable.  I’m not kidding.  My emotions can still go there in an instant.

Meanwhile my life and my program continue as they have for the past 38 years (32 of them in continuous sobriety).  Actually I’ve upped the program piece a tiny bit with reading from As Bill Sees It at night before bed.  I’ve added readings to my day in tough times in the past.  More repetition of the program on my brain can only be a good thing.

Writing here is part of my personal program.  I’ve taken the topics from my topic list one by one and the next one is Easy Does It.  The current step is Step Three.  No matter what I pick or how I do it, if I apply it to my life I find that my happiness increases or, in times like this, maybe, my unhappiness decreases.  Right now there’s an struggle inside of me between the part that wants to get better and the part that resists.  I know this is familiar and appropriate stage of grief, where if I buy into getting better, I’ll be accepting that this has happened, and part of me resists that, knowing how crushing it will be when accepted.  But the program clearly tells me that I can’t stay in the negative emotions, or I will drink, and I will die.

So, Easy Does It.  I’m familiar with it’s place in the Big Book.  I’m familiar with the advice we give newcomers about trying to solve all their problems and manage all their circumstances yesterday.  I looked up the word “easy,” and I noticed the synonym of “serenely.”  Serenity is of course a cornerstone of sobriety, and so I took that meaning of the word to apply to myself, today, in my current heartache.

The “do it” part for me today is resist, object, obstruct…I come close to saying “deny” but I know denial to be wrong.  Resisting, objecting, obstructing, they are words that denote negative energy and so I’m not sure that they can be done serenely.  I’m reading with interest what the Quakers write about this situation since their protests are always peaceful and very, very meaningful.

I have a glimmer of an ideal I’ll aim for today.  That is where I am grateful for having been a part of these historic events, and where I help use them to be a part in bringing about the change I want to see.  I can absolutely see that happening every day around me, I just can’t join whole-heartedly yet because right on the surface, my heart is still broken.