August 20, 2017 (this day)

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What a difference a year makes.  My pictures from this time last year are painful to visit. But not a pictures of this little guy.  He’s basically the same as a year ago, the benefit of being young.  He’s named after a prominent member of AA’s past, by the way, Ebby.  The cat is basically the same.  The dog, my wife and I might be a bit worse for the wear of a year gone by, all being farther along in our expected lifetimes than he is.

I look at pictures from last year and I remember that I was working a bit on Hillary’s campaign.  The election was looming.  We’ve done more than just get older in a year, for sure.

This year I’m working harder on a different campaign, one for congress.  It amazes me how many people don’t know who their congressperson is.  That’s the person who sits on the other side from the senators when the whole gang gets together, and votes on your behalf about issues large and small.

I’m still letting my elected officials know what I think, one a day, each in turn.  Helping with the congressional campaign takes a little time right now, not much.  I honestly struggle to apply the concept of emotional sobriety to this endeavor.  Did I truly learn anything from last year’s experience?  I’ve gone in deeper.  Is that the right thing?

I’m also still facing the imminent decline and death of the precious pooch.  She’s holding her own today, though getting her to take a pill on an empty stomach is a process fraught with emotion and ending in failure every day.

Writing this makes me wonder what next month will bring, both with politics and with the pooch.

Emotional Sobriety

This sounded new age to me, but Bill W actually wrote about it link.

“How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result . . .  it’s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.”

He goes on to say that the answer is in perfect love.  Not being dependent on any person or thing, not even AA, but upon God.  That loving others with no expectation of return is the true key to happiness.  And in AA we have a field ripe for harvesting.

When I was newly, temporarily, precariously sober, avoiding an excess of negative emotion was life or death.  I had to work the program and practice the positive thinking it teaches, or drink.  Now the drink is much farther away.  The emotions are much milder and more easily handled.  I think that sometimes I stay negative because I’m not so compelled to change as I was in the begininng.

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.”

I’m going to make an effort in the next little while to examine my disturbances and identify the dependency and the demand.

My current big, long, awful disturbance – the election.  I depend on the government to do many things and to basically keep me safe.  The government is currently, in my eyes, putting me in danger.

The day after election day someone I work with said something like, “Don’t worry, God is in charge.”  I don’t believe that, though I accept that it may be true.  When I think about my government-inspired fears I have to acknowledge that most people in the world are not so well-situated as I am.  I protest without fear of reprisal.  I tell half of my elected officials that I disagree with them, again without fear of reprisal.  I’m allowed to engage in activities that are meant to undermine and overthrow these particular politicians.  In many places in the world this would be a very dangerous undertaking.  Not here.

And I have to acknowledge that no administration kept me “safer” than this one.  Danger is always there, and I live most of my life not considering it.   Dependency identified.  Now what?

I’m volunteering to help a campaign that seeks to oust my terrible congressman, so that’s something.  I can’t fit the pieces together to say how this reduces my dependency, but it does serve to take my mind off of it, at least for a while.

Apologies to my Readers

Somehow I stopped getting notifications for comments, and I really thought no one was commenting!  The last twenty (20!) are now approved and I’ll try to answer them.  Thanks for reading and commenting and again, so sorry.

July 4, 2017 (this day)

IMG_0583The cat the rugs were on the line for is dead.  She was 16, which to me is not old for a cat.  The dog, who is 14, has some kind of something wrong with her liver and she won’t take the Sam-E on an empty stomach the way she’s supposed to in order to help her liver.  Critters.  They take a lot of my mental and emotional energy right now.  I’m down two three pets.  The aforementioned dog and two cats, twins (or so the shelter told us) who are six years old and healthy.  One is purring on my arm right now, making it difficult to type.  Someone I work with said she wants to come back as one of my pets.  I haven’t had this few pets for many years.  I can’t really imagine or accept living without this dog.  I try not to spend too much time with thoughts like that.  Really, she could outlive me, you never know, and all the preemptive sadness will have been for nothing.

This may not seem to have much to do with AA, but when I contemplate all this, which is often, I really feel like I’ve gotten worse at AA over the years, not better.  And I’m not going to more meetings as a result of those feelings because I hate to leave the dog home alone.  And I’m not getting another dog because I hate to leave the dog home alone.  I’ll go to more meetings then.  There will be plenty of time.  If I’m fortunate.

It is When We Try to Make (Step Three continued)

It is when we try to make our will conform with God’s that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God’s intention for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door.

Once we have come into agreement with these ideas, it is really easy to begin the practice of Step Three. In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.”

I believe I have used this tool fairly successfully.  Not in the sense that I always or even usually ascertain God’s will and then carry it out.  And I also have never embraced and used the Serenity Prayer in my day to day life the way some people do.  But I have for a long time known in moments of emotional disturbance or indecision to ask for God’s will.  In times of very high stress, like when someone seems to be in mortal danger, I usually default to that thought, something like, “God, show me what to do,” or, “God, use me to do what needs to be done.”

I say I’ve used it successfully because I haven’t had a drink.  I can see from here that it’s taking me myself and I out of the equation and opening my mind to what I hope is a better way.  The rest of the Steps are the instructions for how to continue on in this.

 

May 27, 2017 (this day)

IMG_0488.JPGThis time last year Carole and I were looking for a stained glass window to buy for our house to commemorate our 19th anniversary of meeting each other.  We found some great ones but don’t know how to have any installed.  So we are still without.  In another week we will mark 20 years since our first meeting in person.  Twenty years is courtesy of AA in so many ways.  I wouldn’t be alive to meet anyone without AA.  And it is the most important thing we have in common.  We met online and are so different in so many ways it might not have worked out if we had met in person, even in AA.  So I don’t golf but I do go to meetings.  I share her religion but not her religious details, but I do live by the same twelve steps.

Last week while she was away I went on my own to a meeting for someone who will challenge my terrible, terrible congressman in 2018.  My congressman is a 97% match for Voldemort (aka current POTUS who I do not want to reference directly) but my district………

Then my daughter called.  She is going to China for work in one week, for one week.  Then she’s coming back and going to a house with us and our extended family.  Then she’s going to South Korea for work.  Then she’s planning a trip with two of her friends, me, my mother and Carole to go wedding dress shopping for her wedding which may occur sometime next year.  My daughter is not aware that later tonight I’ll celebrate 33 years of sobriety, sobriety that began before she was born and that has protected her from so much misery every day of her life.  If nothing else, I’m 100% sure my sobriety is the only reason she talks to me.  My sobriety has all this, and it has produced another Democrat.

Emotional Hangover (from step 10)

When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he cannot live well today. But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion—anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers.

My emotional life is ruled by politics right now, and I’m just going to go with it.

I know I’m not doing it well when I dream about congress, or when thoughts of politics and politicians are the first thoughts I have waking up, or the things that run through my head when I’m trying to sleep.  I don’t feel that the negative emotions are excessive.  I think  anger, fear, and the like (disgust, dismay, despair) are appropriate and called for.  If you’re not terrified you’re not paying attention!  And I don’t live serenely.

I mean, I do live serenely, this just takes up too much negative space in my head and in my day.  I haven’t reached my goal of spending ten quality minutes with it.  I’ve seen people around me lessen their zeal.  I think I have lessened my newspaper reading, but only a little.  I’m not sure what an appropriate amount would be.

Other things.  I marked 33 years sober last week.  This number is beyond my comprehension.  I feel in this way blessed among all the alcoholics who ever lived.  Emotional hangovers, unpleasant as they are, are the only kind of hangovers I’ve had in all that time.  I remember cotton mouth, dry heaves, vague and fearful regrets.  I’ll take the emotional hangover because this hangover comes with hope and a plan to suffer less next time.

And viva la resistance!!