February 6, 2016 (this day)

IMG_0307I achieve some goals, sometimes, yes I do!  This sock was made with extensive help from my daughter over a weekend in a cabin.  I mean, she helped me turn the heel then.  She had helped me start the thing at Christmas.  Hard and fun.  I made it on giant needles as a practice sock and now I have to see if I have enough nerve to try another on proper needles with nicer yarn.  My daughter mentioned that most knitters don’t make it this far, but give up before knitting becomes this difficult.  It reminded me of the line from the 12 and 12 where “this step separates the men from the boys,” or something like that.  I’m thinking it’s referring to step four or five, but I don’t know know for sure.

So, knitting a sock as a metaphor for working the steps and staying sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Today, I’ve done both, and because of this my future for knitting and staying sober are bright, as long as body and soul stay together.

And the black hair at the top of the picture belongs to the dog.  I have no idea how to edit and little desire to learn, though I’m hoping my son will come over soon and help me work my scanner.  How cool these people I potty-trained help me learn so much now.  They are both blessings of sobriety.

Discipline

Discipline-training to act in accordance with rules; drill: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill;training: to train by instruction and exercise; drill . . .  to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.

Sometimes when I hear this discussed at meetings, people say they do not want to see their program as a discipline.  Surely beginning in AA takes discipline.  Ninety meetings in ninety days, not drinking, all that takes discipline.  And it brings a chaotic, actively-alcoholic existence into a state of order, if you’re lucky.

It takes discipline for me now.  I don’t “like” meetings.  I’d rather go home and stay home.  I’d surely rather just attend the meetings rather than go early and make the coffee and get the speaker.  But doing those things develops and improves my skill of living as a sober alcoholic.  And it’s gotten to be, for me, that I actually want to do some of these things some of the time.  I like to say I’d like to “have been” to the meeting without making the effort of actually going there.  But not really.

From time to time I see someone out in the world who I’ve seen at meetings, but who no longer goes.  If the person seems to be successful I usually assume he or she is not drinking.  I know lots of alcoholics abstain without AA but I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything.  What would I have missed, had some miracle struck me sober?  The best parts of my life.

I keep the discipline because I’m afraid not to.  But also because I want to.  I don’t want this to slip.  I don’t want to do it half way.  I don’t want to give it up.  I want to miss anything.

 

January 24, 2016 (this day)

IMG_0291It’s very very very very cold outside, and this kitty has made herself a place where the sun comes in the window, the radiator sends up heat, and the curtain cushions her tush and creates a little heat pocket capturing both the sun and the radiator heat.  I should add that this is an inside kitty.  She has never been colder than probably 50 degrees, at the coldest.

Our weather has been cold for a long time.  Below freezing for days and days, and the walls radiate coldness no matter how high the heat is inside.  I used a heating pad to warm my feet at the work the other day.  Still, I far prefer this to heat.  I don’t like driving in the snow though I’ve done it since I could drive, and I haven’t had to yet this year.  It’s a persistent fear and worry that hasn’t left me.  I think that it may have gotten worse since I’ve gotten older, though I *try* to lessen it, seeing the fear and worry as a character defect I would like to allow God to remove.  I don’t allow it.  I hang on.

Along these lines, my daughter has settled for the time being about 360 miles away from me, as opposed to the 540 miles she used to be.  The ride is much nicer now, much more doable, but still I feel an ache about it even as I know it is well within the realm of possibility that she will one day move much farther away.  She lives near her boyfriend’s family, and even as I’m glad she has them there, I am jealous of them and their proximity.  It’s at the top of my mind because my usual defaults for letting go of feelings like jealousy and longing are not working very well on this one.  My daughter occupies a special place in my psyche that I can sense I don’t understand very well myself.

Carole and I are reading some of the materials early AAs used and we are making our way through The Runner’s Bible.

Self-pity must be strangled the moment it is recognized. It is the worm that dieth not. To indulge in self-pity is to tear down your own strongholds. If you have spiritual understanding even in a small degree, you will know that continued misfortune indicates that something is clouding your consciousness of Ever- Present Help, you are engaged in wrong doing, are holding to the belief that some act of the past has power to harm you, are indulging in some form of hate, or you are not protecting yourself as you should “from the fiery darts of evil.” Self-pity has no place in the divine economy, and should be reckoned with worry and regret as agents of death. No cure can come, nor inharmony be banished while any one of these three has control of the thoughts.

This passage has helped me a lot.  I’ve thought of it (when I successfully can) when the thoughts of longing and jealousy have come, and I truly feel these feelings have lessened in me over the week or so that I’ve applied this.  Self-pity, worry and regret as agents of death may sound at first like melodrama.  But it was this point of view that helped me recover from alcoholism.  As an alcoholic I cannot indulge myself in those emotions.  If I do, I put myself in danger of drinking and yes, if I’m lucky, death.   I say “if I’m lucky” because for me drinking caused a lot more damage than death.  Death will come, but all the alcohol-induced damage doesn’t need to come first.

Step Two (my summary)

I know there are people who are dying right now who want to live, but can’t stop drinking. I believe that’s what killed my father, my ex, my uncle, and uncountable others I’ve known in AA and out of AA.  I see miserable, miserable behaviors repeated over and over and over again because someone can’t stop drinking, or can’t stay stopped.

Alcoholic drinking is insane.  It’s compulsive and irresistible and destructive and poisonous.  A woman on my local news this morning was arrested for wrecking a car, three children inside, none of them her own.  She was driving drunk and this was the latest of many times she has wrecked and been arrested.  Why would she do it again?  Why can’t she see that she can’t predict the outcome, or her ability to stop drinking, once she starts?

It’s a sad fact that many people who would otherwise recover can’t accept the “God thing,” the higher power.  But AA itself as a group of abstinent alcoholics is higher power to achieve sobriety.  I know it.  I live it.  I remember having that tiny bit of faith, that little spark of belief.  It reminds me of some Bruce Springsteen lyrics:

It takes a leap of faith to get things going
It takes a leap of faith you gotta show some guts
It takes a leap of faith to get things going
In your heart you must trust

So, the insanity is the drinking and all that goes along with it.  Everyone’s details will vary.  The higher power is the program, or God, or some combination of both.  The belief is the ingredient that sparks the beginning of the change from drunk to sober, from insane to sane.

I mean to (I want to say “try to” but how I hate that “trying”) extend this concept into other areas of my life where I engage in destructive behavior.  For every destructive thing I do there is a sane alternative and people who successfully practice it.  A friend in the program tells us to “address your addictions in the order they are killing you.”  Alcohol and cigarettes have no power over me today.  I believed it was possible, and so it was.

 

January 11, 2016 (this day)

IMG_0280Happy New Year!  I did not drink alcohol in 2015.  That is a miracle, along with the fact that I lived until 2016.  My feet are there, at a meeting, and that is why.

Nothing much is happening with me.  My daughter visited for Christmas and came down with a terrible cold.  She left and she didn’t take the cold with her.  Carole and I succumbed on New Years Eve and couldn’t move for days.  With just a cold!  It was a wicked one.  I actually didn’t go to work the following Monday, I was so sick.  I suffered through the rest of the week and am getting better every day.

The weather got cold and I worry about freezing pipes and driving in the snow.  I view “worry” as a character defect, and I try to give it up even as I engage in it.  But because I didn’t drink in 2015, I’m not worried about what I did, what I said, what I ruined and who I alienated.  Well, not because of alcohol, anyway….

Disappointment

Being frustrated is disagreeable, but the real disasters in life being when you get what you want.

~Irving Kristol

That’s a saying I collected a long, long, long time ago and have kept because I know that disappointment can be huge trigger for bad feelings, bad thinking, and ultimately drinking.

Today, gratitude is my default.  Sure, I didn’t get this, but I do have this, this, this, and this!  Too much, really, to count.  Going a bit beyond that is what the quote expresses to me.  I think I know what I want and what will make me happy.  But that doesn’t make it true.  We linger over the examples of people who win the lottery and are then devastatingly unhappy in an effort to drive this home.  We’ve seen the dream job become a nightmare.  We’ve experienced with couple who said yes when they should have said no.

The program tells me I have to accept disappointment serenely, as soon and as much as possible.  It resolutely points me back to today and to what is here, now.  I have to remember that even if I could influence events and outcomes, which I can’t, I wouldn’t dare.

December 26, 2015 (this day)

IMG_0271

I had an extremely wonderful Christmas, my 32nd sober.  All is very very well.  The knitting on my daughter’s lap is a sock she’s making.  I have started a sock while she’s here.  This will not go well.

 

Tonight I chair my home group, and I’m feeling slightly guilty about possibly leaving her to do it.  She may be with her brother, though, and if she’s here, she’ll come out with us afterwards.  She used to do that when she lived here.  I made the plan to chair while I was thinking I wouldn’t see her this year.  But really, all is extremely well.  She doesn’t have fetal alcohol syndrome because of the program.  It starts there, and every good thing after that in her life, everything that I have influenced, has been given to her courtesy of AA.

We sometimes hear about the huge number of people who suffer due to someone’s drinking.  Five, six, seven for each alcoholic.   The other side of that coin is the number of people who prosper due to an alcoholic’s sobriety.  That would be anyone I ever brought any good to at all, in addition to the untold number I haven’t harmed.

And the cat?  Some kitties just don’t care.