August 28, 2016 (this day)

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Vacations are over and Carole, as a teacher, will go back to work tomorrow.  Always and adjustment.  We’re still living with a little fear inspired by very minor vandalism inspired by our very big Hillary sign.  I always try to take these things as a lesson to be more compassionate toward people who have real problems, and to do something to help them.

We went to a church gathering yesterday and took a quiz about our spiritual gifts.  My top gift was MERCY.  Hm.  That was followed by writing and administration, then exhortation and service.  I can say that all these gifts have been given to me by sobriety and AA.  And, AA style, I looked immediately to where I scored the lowest and these would be music-vocal (not much I can do about that), then hospitality.  The people at the gathering said I am hospitable enough to their eyes but there are people I’ve known for many years.  I question how much I should push myself and how much is my inborn personality that will not be altered.  I NEVER enjoy meeting new people.  I know my objective is to not let them know this, to not make others uncomfortable because I’m uncomfortable.  How much should I seek to meet new people?

At meetings, of course, this is my context.  I being greeted by an uncomfortable but trying to hide it me better than not being greeted by me?  Can I let the extroverts socialize until over time people become familiar to me?  What is best for the blessed newcomer?

 

Suppose that Instinct Still Cries Out (Step Three continued)

But suppose that instinct still cries out, as it certainly will, “Yes, respecting alcohol, I guess I have to be dependent upon A.A., but in all other matters I must still maintain my independence. Nothing is going to turn me into a nonentity. If I keep on turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut.” This, of course, is the process by which instinct and logic always seek to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual development. The trouble is that this kind of thinking takes no real account of the facts. And the facts seem to be these: The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are. Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.

Let’s examine for a moment this idea of dependence at the level of everyday living. In this area it is startling to discover how dependent we really are, and how unconscious of that dependence. Every modern house has electric wiring carrying power and light to its interior. We are delighted with this dependence; our main hope is that nothing will ever cut off the supply of current. By so accepting our dependence upon this marvel of science, we find ourselves more independent personally. Not only are we more independent, we are even more comfortable and secure. Power flows just where it is needed. Silently and surely, electricity, that strange energy so few people understand, meets our simplest daily needs, and our most desperate ones, too. Ask the polio sufferer connected to an iron lung who depends with complete trust upon a motor to keep the breath of life in him.

Instinct and logic always seek to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual development.

When I consider a character defect, or a way in which I think I should change, this is exactly what happens.  I’m grateful that I have the huge, miraculous example in my life of getting sober.  I can remember that instinct and logic fought my sobriety at every turn, and that it was an act of will to give up my will and do the program thing.  Now I try to apply that concept to my present difficulties which do not involve alcohol.

A list of things I’m dependent upon is long.  Along with electricity there is water, central heating, and all that goes into making food available to me since I could not feed and support myself without many complex systems and many varied people.  I depend on the police, firefighters, doctors, the list is really endless.  All this dependence makes me free to pursue things that don’t have to do with basic life support, like writing in a blog.  I also have the experience of working with people who have multiple, severe disabilities.  Some of them depend on others to give them a drink and for every movement they make.  My society at this time and place is incredibly supportive.

I had to depend on the program in order to stop drinking and live.  A crucial point of that was to understand that I couldn’t follow my own will any longer.  My own will was trying to kill me by driving me to drink.  My own personal logical experiments with drinking sanely did not work and nearly killed me.

Today, honestly, I’m dealing with a little bit of fear inspired by the current political situation.  My support of Hillary Clinton is making me a little bit of a target for some negativity and violence.  Instinct and logic are telling me, at the extreme, to move, and start my life over again as someone who doesn’t particularly care who gets to be president.   It is a complete and total coincidence that the portion of the 12 and 12 I was set to write about today addresses just this dilemma.  Spiritual development, here I come!

 

 

A Drug is a Drug

*******Disclaimer!  This is my opinion only!  I don’t speak for anyone else, any organization, and I have no training or education in medicine or psychology!*******

Sometimes I feel like the only unmedicated person in my world.  I take no prescriptions and not much over the counter anything.  I have no chronic conditions that require medications yet, aside from annoying allergies.  I’m sure there’s plenty wrong with me, and that a doctor or psychologist or psychiatrist could find lots to medicate.

It’s my own personal experience that I have to remember the terror of not being able to stop drinking.  When I experienced that somewhat sanely, it was terrifying, and that’s what it should be, for someone who wants to live.  It’s hard to remember, decades later, but it was dramatic enough to stay with me, and that’s part of what has kept me sober.

I have dental problems and I have to go to the dentist every three months.  I haven’t had laughing gas for years, but I used to get it regularly.  Every time it hit my central nervous system I decided that as soon as I was done, I was going to go drink.  That drug effected me dramatically, because I have an alcoholic brain.  Every time I came down from the gas I returned to my senses and did not go drink, but that experience tells me it’s right there, waiting to grab me again.

I had Demerol in labor, and whatever they give you to put you under for surgery.  Pain pills after surgery, and that’s pretty much it for me so far.  I know I could legitimately get a doctor to prescribe something for my pain, my anxiety, my sleeplessness.  I may do that some day.

But I can name many people who went out after using legitimately prescribed and needed drugs.  It can happen, and sometimes I’m sure it’s not the fault of the person who does it.  We can’t all have our medications held by someone and doled out to us as prescribed.  And taking things as prescribed has also lead to relapse.  It just has.

It will be a bit of a surprise to some people that the spirit of AA is that is a person takes a mood-changing, mind-altering drug that has not been prescribed and/or is not needed, that person is not considered to be sober in AA, even though he or she has not taken a drink.  But that’s the way it is.  These drugs change our mood or our mind and so we are not sober, and will probably soon drink.

July 8, 2016 (this day)

IMG_0492I don’t have much to write about today.  I don’t comment on current events because I don’t now much about them.  I don’t watch or read news when I can avoid it.  I find the local news to be stressful in that it mostly has to do with fires and murders and other bad things that happen to people.  I feel, really, that I don’t do enough to improve the state of things.  I work with people who have multiple, severe disabilities.  That is not enough.

Regarding my program there are two things on my mind.  One is that I’ve tried to help a young lady who is worried about her daughter in a way that I used to worry about my daughter and, at times, my son.  I suggested to her that she give the issue several  quiet minutes a day.  I remember that as I worried about my daughter and dealt with her issues day to day, I tried all the time to keep gratitude up front.  My friend and I have some of the best resources in the world available to us.  We have great support systems and we have hope that our daughters will be independent and happy, at least some of the time.  Remembering these facts helped me get through.

My second issue is a character defect of mine I’ve been attacking.  Attacking!  Something has been bothering me, and I don’t know why, and I might at times even blame those pesky female hormones.  As I seek to overcome this character defect, at least as much as possible, I’ve looked up prayers about it and read about it and I keep deepening my understanding of it and resistance to it.  I want it to be removed, as much as that is possible, and I’m willing to work for that.

Maybe this all Sounds Mysterious (Step Three continued)

Maybe this all sounds mysterious and remote, something like Einstein’s theory of relativity or a proposition in nuclear physics. It isn’t at all. Let’s look at how practical it actually is. Every man and woman who has joined A.A. and intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three. Isn’t it true that in all matters touching upon alcohol, each of them has decided to turn his or her life over to the care, protection, and guidance of Alcoholics Anonymous? Already a willingness has been achieved to cast out one’s own will and one’s own ideas about the alcohol problem in favor of those suggested by A.A. Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor for the foundering vessel he has become. Now if this is not turning one’s will and life over to a newfound Providence, then what is it?

So here possibly lies some of the key to my early chronic relapsing.  It took me six years of drinking and attending AA to finally achieve a sobriety that would last.  I didn’t feel AA was a safe harbor.  Although I believed that the sober members were telling me the truth.  I believed they had been just like me and that through following the program they had achieved sobriety, I was not completely sure that I could.  And I held on to a tiny straw of hope, for the longest time, that although I knew I was alcoholic and that alcoholism always gets worse, I would learn to drink successfully.  So I didn’t entirely give my will concerning alcohol to AA.  Almost all matters, but not completely all.  And I did intend to stick.

Now I’m writing this blog with 32 years of sobriety and counting.  I want to work and rework these principles in my current, sober life.  I suffer still from many disturbances of my peace of mind.  They are nothing like they used to be, and when I was drinking that disturbance was quickly bringing me to my death.  No, sobriety gets better and sobriety is worth it.  If I didn’t have sobriety, I wouldn’t have the life nor the ability to grapple with my current state of mind.

Day to day, alcohol is not an issue for me.  Character defects are.  I cannot completely surrender and abstain from anger and fear, anxiety and jealousy the way I can from alcohol.  There is no religion that would guide me thoroughly enough to give the rest of my life over to it.  There is in me, after all the time, still the hope and faith that by continuing with the program I will continue to improve.  Just grappling with this one paragraph of this one step of this one book has hopefully brought me closer to that ideal me I want to be.  Maybe this is mysterious – impossible to explain.

June 25, 2016 (this day)

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Back from vacation which presents challenges physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!  No more time to watch turtles cross the road unless I take time away from my doggie and travel a bit from my home.  Leaving the pets, especially the dog, is a huge stress for me and as soon as I’m back I’m worried about the next time I have to leave her.  The worrying is a character defect, for sure, and as she and I get older, I am more in its grip.  I also worry about the effect my worry has on my relationship, as my wife is much much more keen to travel and to leave the dog than I am.  And all the while I realize I am so blessed to have this special old girl with me still to worry about, as well as people to care for her while I’m gone.

I came home with many bad bug bites, and one swollen lymph node, which may or may not be related to the bug bites.  The doctor said to come back with the node if it’s not gone in a month.  Three weeks and one day to go on that.  It’s smaller but still there.  And the tops of my feet have been sore, which Dr. Google is very unhelpful in diagnosing.  The doctor checked my feet out and said they’re not broken, etc etc, but would do an x-ray.  I said I’d look into that next month if, when the lymph node fails to unswell, the feet still hurt.  I don’t do well with doctors.

I had to say goodbye to mother and I had to go back to work.  I have to deal with hot weather, and the responsibilities of my home group which is mostly a joy but can feel like a burden.

AA away on vacation made me grateful for my own little corner of AA again.  It always does.  We went to three meetings and saw mostly the same people who had to travel distances we do not have to travel to get there.  I’ve been spoiled in AA my whole life and I doubt I’d be able to gracefully put up with the same small cast of characters at every meeting.  Or, more likely, I’d have had to grow in tolerance in ways I haven’t had to, given the plentiful AA community I’ve always been a part of in all the places I’ve lived.

While we were gone, a member of our local AA community died unexpectedly at the age of 61.  He had only a few years sober, I’m not sure how many.  He was sober, a certain victory.  This always makes me conscious again of the miracle of my long, long sobriety and entire adult life spent sober.  It also makes me think that it’s never too late to get sober.  Going to the funeral parlor, I’m sure that his last years with his family were much better than they would have been had he kept drinking.

I have so much to be grateful for.  This post lists just a fraction of the things.  Vacation, home, pets, wife, mother, job, AA, meetings, health, health care, weather, computer, internet, blog.