August 21, 2009 (this day and daily inventory)

Scaring myself through what-if scenarios.

I’m having a pretty good day.  I’ve had a pretty good week.  I set off each day of work to be in a good mood, and it’s mostly worked.  I’ve looked out for the triggers I’ve identified and I haven’t been triggered much.  Till right about now, but still.

My work situation is still in limbo and transition and all week it’s looked like my best case scenario may come to be, which I think would be great.  That phrase, “what would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ didn’t mean much to me before, but getting a handle on this work situation is certainly something I would do if I couldn’t fail.  And it’s possible to succeed.  Not likely, but possible.

There were also some very hopeful signs that we might move my workplace, which would also be very very good.

Then a little while ago, a higher up asked a bunch of questions that could mean my best case scenario will not come to be.  Like so many organizations, this one changes slowly and painfully and usually a bit too late.  And I hear myself completely.  The questions COULD mean that.  You know?  Or not.
I cannot know another person’s motivation.  Maybe my best case is not THE best case.    Maybe I should let go and let God.

Shoemaker, stick to thy last!

But In Other Instances (Step Ten continued)

But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were.  There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong.  The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn’t.

Wow.  I can see that so clearly sometimes in other people.

Going back to my debit side and considering my anger, I will record that this is my fourth day off in a row and anger has not been a problem for me at home these four days.  That is far from always the case, and I certainly need to work on my anger as it involves my family members, but just now it’s not a problem.  I haven’t been to work so I haven’t been angry there, but I go back tomorrow.

I have noticed that when a certain coworker of mine is in a good mood, it goes far towards giving me a good day.  As soon as I realized that, I saw that also of course my mood may influence others toward the good and happy side, and so I’m mindfully trying to do that.

But I’m off track.  My bad behavior at home and at work often begins with my anger.  At work, I think it has mostly to do with the selfishness of others, or with their desire to control things that I rightfully should be controlling, things like the staff schedule.

I can’t think of a good example, and I’m going to try to pay attention to my debit side and to see what my motives are in situations of conflict.

I Can Drink Again/I Can Stop Again

Last night at my meeting the speaker commented that after a year or two of AA, he was sure he had it and understood it and had mastered it.  Now, with 18 years of sobriety, he understands the knew so very little at that time.

On the radio today I listened to part of a program.  I don’t know what it was about or who was talking.  The man commented that at 15 years old or so, he felt like he had life by the balls (his expression, NOT mine), and that he understood and knew so much more than the older people.  Now that he is older, he understands he knew not very much at 15.  Further reflection by both of these men revealed to them that now, at an older age and with a longer sobriety, they realize how very much they don’t know now, even now.

I hear faulty concepts and wrong thinking all the time in AA.

I tested out the tried and true advice of AA for six years while I drank before, during and after AA meetings.  I had to see for myself time after time that these people spoke the truth.  One of the most dangerous concepts I held and had to give up was that since I had stopped drinking in the past, I could stop again.  I use the fact that I have successfully flown many many times to calm myself when I fear flying now.  This does not correlate to AA for me.

I know I could drink again.  I could do it tonight.  I do not know if I could stop again.  I can picture a line up of people I knew who thought this who were dead wrong.

Maybe I could.  I’ll go so far as to say probably I could.  But maybe not.  Why would I take a chance like that?  Intoxication at this point would bring lots of pain of its own to add to the situation I am drinking over.

I have to acknowledge that to drink is to risk every single thing in my life and including my life and maybe yours also.  In tough times it was (I say was because drinking is not an issue for me these days) one of the tools I could pick up to stay sober.  Understanding this at a deep level has helped me stay sober for a very long time.


AA has to be number 1.  It’s not a selfish program, and I try not to be a selfish person, but if I’m not sober, I’m worse than no help, I’m a menace.  Everything in my life including my very life is due to AA.  I can’t ever let that go.

There have been times when I’ve had to decide what is more important and get that and give up the alternatives.  I’m thinking of when my kids were in school, in deciding where to live, a good school district was a high priority of mine.  I lived in much less house because I believed the schools were that much more important.

I work in a field that is very very low paying for the demands it makes.  I decided that the joy and importance of the work is more important to me than the lack of money is.  I’m not all holy, though, I still have more than enough and more than my share.

Day to day, I don’t feel I have to prioritize much because I’m basically in balance.  I hope that I give time and attention and resources like money to my family and my job and myself  in a way that mostly works for me and them.

August 14, 2009 (this day)

july09 004This old kitchen floor is gone.  We got a spiffy hopefully retro looking blue on blue.  Today is Friday, and I took the day off from work as well as next Monday, so four days in a row.  Today I got the oil changed in my daughter’s car and I had my new false tooth checked by the oral surgeon.  He said all is well and I just have to go one more time, six months from now.  I like the dental implant.  I really don’t know it’s there except that it feels just a little different than my other teeth.  I notice, these days, when people are missing a tooth or some teeth.  It’s a tough decision to spend that money.  I’m not done paying for it.

So I have my new tooth and my new name and my new kitchen floor.  There are some bad things going on in my state and my field with budget cuts and other scary stuff.  My position at work seems to be working itself out.  It’s been up in the air for quite some time.  I actually took a book out of the library yesterday, Embracing Uncertainty. And some about getting over fears and phobias.  I’m looking to fly without fear next summer.

The weather has turned hot where I am and I don’t like that a bit.  It’s been a cool summer till now.  My kids are doing well enough.

Carole helped me clean out some boxes of stuff I haven’t parted with.  I got rid of lots but also strolled down memory lane.  There was the tag from my first cat bearing the first address I had when I moved far far away from home.  There were deeds to the first house I bought and lots of divorce and child support paper work.  My transcripts from when I was a drunken undergraduate.  I barely made it through with a 2.3 and I failed and withdrew from many classes.  If I ever wonder if I could have been an alcoholic at that young age those numbers don’t lie.  My kids in comparison are doing so well.

There were good grades from when I went back to school after I had stopped drinking, and positive job reviews and stuff from when the kids were little.  I’m again profoundly grateful that my drinking was over before they began, and that this sobriety is the basis of my relationship with Carole.

As We Glance Down the Debit Side (Step Ten continued)

As we glance down the debit side of the day’s ledger, we should carefully examine our motives in each thought or act that appears to be wrong.  In most cases our motives won’t be hard to see and understand.  When prideful, angry, jealous, anxious, or fearful, we acted accordingly, and that was that.  Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God’s help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, make, of course, any amends still neglected.

I had another angry morning at work, and this happens way too often.  I absolutely knew in the beginning, middle and at the end of it that I was angry, that I was wrong to be angry, and that I needed to get over my anger.  I didn’t express it, because to do so would be to “let them see me sweat.”

My motive in that situation is often that my power and control is questioned or threatened.  Should I be the director?  Well, yes, that is my job.  I am supposed to direct.   My direction is pretty well guaranteed to make at least one person, probably more, unhappy every single day that I do it.  I take that unhappiness too hard.  I know that I deal with the hassle, the job and the unhappiness because it is for the greater good.

I really don’t do a daily inventory, formal or informal, I more try to define it in the moment.  Either way, considering “each thought or act that appears to be wrong” seems like an impossibly tall order.

Trying to visualize how I might have done better is also difficult.  I try to call to mind someone who did my job or my type of  job very well, and I wonder how that person would have reacted to what I’m going through.  The person I’m left thinking about was really only my second supervisor in the string of six, and although she did most things very very well, there were employees who didn’t like her either, and who reacted badly to her direction each and every day.

Principles Before Personalities (from Tradition Twevle)

An hour or so ago I looked at this topic and thought briefly about what it means to me.  I then asked Carole what it means to her.  We had different but similar wrong ideas about this phrase.  Through the years, I’ve ended up at Tradition meetings a few times by accident.  It was common years ago to do a tradition on th fifth whatever day of the week since that occurs only four times a year.  I’ve never sought out a traditions meeting and I don’t give the traditions tons of thought.  I am profoundly grateful that they protect the existence of AA and do it so well that they don’t often come to my attention.  They are an integral part of AA’s success.

I’ve given Traditon Eleven some thought in relation to this blog.  I write briefly about it in the “about this blog” page, and to my understanding, I should not make my last name public nor should I show a full face picture of myself.  There are many bloggers who do this so maybe my understanding is wrong, but I think theirs is.  I have also seen AA referenced on Facebook, again with the person’s last name and full face picture.  Again, I understand that to be wrong.  Lots of people know who I am, know I’m in AA, and know I write this, but since they do actually know me, I don’t believe that violates the tradition.  I am very open to other views and I take this matter seriously.

I had a vauge notion that “principles before personalities” comes from the traditions.  That’s probably because I usually hear the traditions at least once a week.  Before I peeked at the book, I would have said that to me, the phrase means I should not take the bad behavior or my dislike of some individuals within AA to reflect badly on AA.  Carole’s guess had something to do with helping others within AA, even if I don’t personally like them.

Neither of those really goes with the beginning words, “anonymity being the spiritual foundation of all our traditions.”  I have at times let it briefly cross my mind that those first words don’t really jive with my interpretation of the the last words.  So today I looked and it seems I’ve been mistaken.

My new understanding of the tradition is that it further explains why anonymity at the level I described is necessary.  It goes through the history of AA and how it was a secret society, and how then for a time there were too many people who sought to join and how there weren’t enough AA members to handle the demand.  It talks about people being public about their AA membership, then drinking, casting AA in a bad light and so discouraging some potential members.

My first thought, before I read about it, along with Carole’s are interesting and good concepts, I think, they just don’t speak to the actual tradition.

I love it that I’m still learning.  And I still believe that AA blogs should not contain full names or full face pictures, and that Facebook should not disclose AA membership.