I was trying to get a picture of the dog with her head upon my lap. Pajamas on, outside in the beautiful weather, book at the ready (The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed). My selfie skills are rudimentary and her modeling skills don’t exist.
All is well right now. It’s easy to be serene in the easy patches, and I’ll take it. The fall weather boosts my mood the way the summer weather boosts most people I seem to come in contact with. I can’t take the heat, and while I don’t like the cold, I’ll take it over the heat. But right now is perfect. My immediate friends and family and all doing well enough. My travels are over, I hope, until the summer or at least until the spring. My job is as good as something can be that I have to be paid to do, if you know what I mean. My meeting is healthy, my critters are strong and happy, and no I don’t feel (within a 99% margin or error) that hitting “post” on this will jinx any of it. It’s a well known fact of my life that “this, too, shall pass.”
“As psychiatrists have often observed, defiance is the outstanding characteristic of many an alcoholic. So it’s not strange that lots of us have had our day at defying God Himself. Sometimes it’s because God has not delivered us the good things of life which we specified, as a greedy child makes an impossible list for Santa Claus. More often, though, we had met up with some major calamity, and to our way of thinking lost out because God deserted us. The girl we wanted to marry had other notions; we prayed God that she’d change her mind, but she didn’t. We prayed for healthy children, and were presented with sick ones, or none at all. We prayed for promotions at business, and none came. Loved ones, upon whom we heartily depended, were taken from us by so-called acts of God. Then we became drunkards, and asked God to stop that. But nothing happened. This was the unkindest cut of all. ‘Damn this faith business!’ we said.
This is one of the most important paragraphs in AA literature for me, because it tells me clearly that everything won’t always turn out OK. Personally, I don’t know if God is involved in these details of my life, and if God is involved in the details, I don’t know by what algorithm he grants or withholds good things, and gives or doesn’t give bad things. It reminds me of part of a Carl Sandburg poem I like:
|The game is all your way, the secrets and the signals and the system; and so for the break of the game and the first play and the last.
| Our prayer of thanks.
Also, the part about asking God to save me from alcoholism, reminds me of the Bible quote:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
The idea of defying God is, to me, the same as the idea of defying reality. Whether God causes reality or not isn’t something I’ll ever be able to answer, and I don’t have to answer it to stay sober.
I’m the mother of a 30-year-old who I have to travel a great distance to see, and during that travel I experience all kinds of weather that I don’t want to experience. I took this picture after we pulled over because visibility was about three feet, and then there was hail. Not fun.
But she’s never yet been endangered by my alcoholism, and that’s more than I ever could have dreamed. Had I drank any time since she was conceived until now, I know the results would have been tragic. On the other hand, I still have to deal with my mother’s drinking. I’m 53, and my mother is 75, and I’m here to tell everyone once again that it’s never too late to give your child a sober mother.
The AA way to deal with difficult people is, according to me, with humility. I immediately need to bring to mind that I am the difficult person people need help dealing with. I need to see what I can change in myself, not in them (indirect paraphrase from the Big Book or 12 and 12).
Except when they are someone I gave birth to, or someone I supervise.
But in general. AA tells me to treat everyone with patience, tolerance, kindliness and love. I think AA is telling me to do this with difficult people. After all, the easy people are easy to deal with! No instructions required.
A trick I sometimes use is to answer difficult interactions with either, “You may be right,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or both.
But usually dealing with difficult people involves changing my mind as much as possible. Seeing where these people are right, forgiving where they are wrong, and keeping an open mind as to my own ability to know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Trying to send PDFs to my Kindle to read somewhat comfortably. I feel like I’m always trying to do the next thing with technology. If I could go back ten years I could work it all perfectly. Instead I know the technology exists to allow me to read PDFs on the Kindle, so I try. With so-so results.
My life is mostly back to normal, though soon I have to (get to) travel again to see my daughter for her 30th birthday. Her life has been one of the most complete miracles of mine, and, for the purpose of this blog, an extreme gift and miracle of sobriety. I won’t take tons of credit. I deserve none, in a way, because on my own I was incapable of sustaining my own life, forget about creating and nurturing another (and another – not forgetting my son but he’s not turning 30!).
Our meeting will have its birthday while we’re gone and Carole and I cannot remember if it will be 10 or 11 years old. This is abominable, given the history buffs we can be. We kept no record and just don’t know. I wonder if I can go back in my checking to see when we first paid the church and the local AA office.
There are a few people from that time who still attend, but not many. Some attenders and members of the group have died, some because of alcohol. The church itself is in danger of closing and that would be a shame. I’m not sure what would happen to the meeting then. We started it on Saturdays because there were no early Saturday meetings in our area, and because we needed something to do Saturday nights. Many people have shared since then that in early sobriety it became a safe place for them, because Saturday night can be a danger zone for alcoholics. I can’t relate because I drank every day (and night), but I understand, and I’m glad. And sorry to miss the anniversary. And glad the meeting is healthy enough for the celebration to go on without us. And grateful beyond measure for what we’ll be celebrating at the same time.
Another crowd of A.A.’s says: We were plumb disgusted with religion and all its works. The Bible, we said, was full of nonsense; we could cite it chapter and verse, and we couldn’t see the Beatitudes for the ‘begats.’ In spots its morality was impossibly good; in others it seemed impossibly bad. But it was the morality of the religionists themselves that really got us down. We gloated over the hypocrisy, bigotry, and crushing self-righteousness that clung to so many ‘believers’ even in their Sunday best. How we loved to shout the damaging fact that millions of the ‘good men of religion’ were still killing one another off in the name of God. This all meant, of course, that we had substituted negative for positive thinking. 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. Moreover, we could avoid looking at some of our own shortcomings. Self-righteousness, the very thing that we had contemptuously condemned in others, was our undoing, so far as faith was concerned. But finally, driven to A.A., we learned better.
This paragraph describes my attitude to some degree. I was only 16 when I first went to AA, and I was only just past being confirmed in the Lutheran church against my will. The hypocrisy of that drove me away far and fast. Yes, I could see that the Bible and the people were full of nonsense.
I didn’t spend too much time feeling superior to them, and I’m grateful that pretty quickly I understood the AA concept that these people I was criticizing were some of the best and brightest in the world, ever.
I still have a huge problem with the “book of rules” that comes with most religions. I really don’t understand how some people can go along with organized religion. Say a creed, for example, and profess to believe every part of it. I just don’t get it. Good thing for me I don’t have to get it, and I can attend AA with those church people and with atheists and everyone in between, and we can all keep each other sober, sharing our faith, whatever that may be.
A picture from a previous vacation. I’m on vacation again, and trying to lessen my vacation anxiety, which finds many objects to attach itself to.
I went to one of the smallest AA meetings I have ever been to on this vacation. There were two people there aside from Carole and I. They said that they were trying to build the meeting up again. We had a meeting of sorts for a while. Carole and I have looked at the meeting list for this area many times, and I’m struck by how few meeting there are and how far people have to travel to get to them. I’ve probably shared this before, but I’ve lived in several places in sobriety. Five actual distinct areas, one of them very rural and some distance from a very small city. But I have always had abundant, nearby meetings and so I’ve really had my choice. I’m always grateful, but at times like this I’m super grateful. AA without a choice of meetings like that is something I have never had to deal with.