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.

November 17, 2016 (this day)

ATTENTION!!  AA has no opinion on outside issues.  I have plenty, and I express them here.  I DO NOT speak for AA, only for myself.  Please do not stay away from AA because of anything I say.

I have an archive here that reaches back into 2008 and the last time Hillary Clinton lost an election, that for the nomination of her party for the presidency.  I looked up what I wrote at that time and it just wasn’t as anguished as I expected.  I was plenty anguished.  There are many, many reasons I’ve wanted Hillary to be president and lots of my time and some of my treasure has gone to the cause, over nine years old for me now.  It’s important in many ways, but for my purpose here I’m a sober alcoholic who has endured a very big disappointment.  The disappointment has aspects of unfairness and PLENTY of self-righteousness and also fear of the future and a disbelief that anyone could want that terrible, disgusting man in our view for any reason.

I’m “working” on the third step, and it tells me that people trying to impose their will on others results in ruin.  It reminds me that my own will in the form of alcoholic drinking nearly brought about my own destruction.  I don’t always know what’s right.  My ego has been bruised because things didn’t go my way.  I don’t want to become ugly in response to the wrongs I perceive.  I’m still responsible to many people, for many things, and my mood and demeanor can affect people for good or for bad.

Eight years ago I came away ultimately grateful for the experience, and that’s the ideal I hold before myself now.  I see lots of good that’s already resulted, and the bad has yet to materialize.  I don’t want my reaction to be part of the bad.  I don’t want to be greedy and demand more than my share of amazing historical events to live through.

So, this was one of the most disappointing things I can remember going through, because I’ve had and have a really good life.  As a major disappointment that wrecked my mood in a major way for a solid week, alcohol did not enter the picture.  I didn’t think of drinking or want to drink and as miraculous as the experience was of being a Hillary supporter, being a sober alcoholic is even more spectacular.

Should His Own Image Be Too Awful (Step Three continued)

Should his own image in the mirror be too awful to contemplate (and it usually is), he might first take a look at the results normal people are getting from self-suffciency. Everywhere he sees people filled with anger and fear, society breaking up into warring fragments. Each fragment says to the others, “We are right and you are wrong.” Every such pressure group, if it is strong enough, self-righteously imposes its will upon the rest. And everywhere the same thing is being done on an individual basis. The sum of all this mighty effort is less peace and less brotherhood than before. The philosophy of self-sufficiency is not paying off. Plainly enough, it is a bone-crushing juggernaut whose final achievement is ruin.

Last night I was at a meeting where we discussed, among other things, miracles.  While recovery is a miracle, we said, there is work involved, so are the results miraculous?

I think so.  Even though I’ve known this for a very long time, I’m still amazed that the program of AA packages the wisdom of the ages into a form I can USE IN MY LIFE to stay sober.  I’m a sober alcoholic, and that is a miracle.  It is so rare, I am so blessed.

Part of the reason I stay sober over decades is that I can take just about any part of the program and apply it to my life to help me live better.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  I’ve written about this American election of 2016 and how it distresses me.  This happened eight years ago, and, to a lesser extent, four years ago.  It happens to me every time, whether my candidate wins or loses.  I’m distressed that there are people on the “other” side, the side I see as clearly wrong.  I wish I was one of the people who don’t care much about politics.  I harbor bad feelings about people on the other side.  Even if they are in AA.

AA is my closest family in that if I don’t keep it intact, I won’t have any other family by blood or choice or anything.  I have got to interact with other alcoholics in recovery so that we can both live, and politics does not play into it.  Yet once I know the political feelings of a person, AA or not, it changes my mind about that person, for the good or for the bad.

And then there, in the program, is my answer.  For me, today, with less than a week to go before this awful election, it states an ideal that I am so far from achieving I think it would take a miracle to change my mind that much.

October 26, 2016 (this day)

img_0594The election continues to vex me.  I always feel that I’m all right and they are all wrong, but this time I feel especially so.  I have bad thoughts and feelings about people I am otherwise neutral about, or people I like.  It’s difficult, it’s frightening.  And it’s wonderful.  It looks like this may actually happen.

I don’t have much going on.  My economic insecurity is over, and I’m unhappy with how frightened I can get with things like that.  I’ll travel soon to a cousin’s wedding.  I may not be able to see my daughter at Christmas, which would be the first time I didn’t see her at Christmas, I think.  My son is in Australia for work, and he doesn’t reassure me quite as well as my daughter did when she went to Greece.  But he does answer if I call, so I’ll have to take it.  Meetings are fine, work is fine, family is fine.  I completely appreciate that everything in my world at this moment is fine.  And when Hillary wins it will be very very fine!

Dry Drunk

I understand this to mean two different things.  One, it’s a drunk (alcoholic) who isn’t drinking.  AA wisdom says that the alcoholic has to change in order to stay sober and be happy.  “If you sober up a horse thief, you will have a sober horse thief.”  The horse thief must change her way of life to live rightly and stay sober.

The second meaning is an alcoholic in recovery who who goes on an emotional bender without drinking.  This would be the excess of negative emotion mentioned in the steps.  A dry drunk, a drunk without alcohol, endangers the alcoholic in that if it continues, he will more than likely drink.  I can’t stay in the negative emotion for any period of time without risking my sobriety.

“Stuff” is going on for me.  Count me into the 50% of Americans who are stressed by this election.  And let me meet the half who aren’t, because everyone I know is.  I’m also experiencing some very minor economic insecurity.  I’ve never been good with that, even as I’ve had everything I need every day of my life, and people to help me if I don’t.  I won’t call this a dry drunk, and I hope I’m acting mostly rationally.  Both of these situations will eventually pass and remembering that is one way I stay out of danger.