Life Is Short (prayer and meditation)

Life is short and we have not too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark way with us.  Oh, be swift to love!  Make haste to be kind.  Henri-Frederic Amiel – 1885

I have an excess of negative emotion.  There is someone I need to trust, who I feel is untrustworthy.  It’s a very close relationship, like being partners or a team at work, or like being in the same small family.  The emotion is so negative that it feels like my blood is running cold, or something else physically all-encompassing.  As my mind naturally and automatically seeks to quiet itself and return to calmness, I tell myself this person IS trustworthy.  But I’ve been burned.

Has something changed?  I think of the constant and profound lies of the adolescent.  I’ve lived through raising two of those.  At what point does that lying child become the trustworthy adult?  How to risk being let down and made a fool of again?

That is the language of resentment.  A resentment comes from a sense of injury or insult.  A sense of.  OK, everyone is human.

At times I can see the big, long picture.  At times I understand it’s better to go forward with faith and yes risk being hurt again.  But even as my mind fights to regain calmness and normality a part of me holds back, telling myself not to be so stupid to trust again.

I feel the shortness of life mentioned in the prayer.  I feel the darkness of the way mentioned there.  For my brief and daily contacts I can bring myself back to remember to be kind.  But for the deeper, longer relationships.  I don’t know what to do.

Nor Wish to Shut the Door on It (promises)

This one is a little easier to swallow than not regretting the past.  Every dreadful moment I ever spent has brought me here, and I mostly like here.  I can also usually, eventually, mostly, sometimes, benefit from past mistakes.  I can see that doing the wrong thing makes people deeper, more compassionate, and ultimately more helpful.  On a large scale, I guess shutting the door on the past would mean people didn’t move forward.  I suppose it is the same with individuals, with me.

September 27, 2009 (this day)

september09 089Just had to say what I could not say – Carole is 50 today, and last night I think I actually pulled off surprising her with a surprise party.  If not, she was kind enough to pretend.  But I think we really did surprise her.

That capped off a very stressful week.  I’ve been planning the party for about a month.  Much planning and much secrecy was needed.  This last week before the party, I woke up sick on Sunday and it was down hill from there.  I had to work every day and had something I had to do every night.  I don’t like it when I have one thing to do at night.  The week seemed daunting, especially from congested eyes.  I made it, of course, one day at a time.  I’m glad I know enough not to do this to myself when it isn’t necessary.  But it was and I whined through.

The guests were people Carole works with, neighbors and friends.  Every friend, I think, comes from AA if they aren’t a neighbor or co-worker.  She also had, with me and the kids there, her sister and niece so quite a family contingent.

I was pretty happy when the last person left and I promised myself I wouldn’t do a single thing today, but we did go to a meeting.  The week ahead of me is not at all hectic but I’ll be alone for part of it, and I don’t like to leave the dog all day and then all night.

Said dog, by the way, couldn’t keep her eyes open, and stopped following me after a while to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor.  So I got the camera.

So some people (cough cough) complain terribly about getting older but maybe a party like this could cause someone (cough cough) to take stock and be grateful.  It is a beautiful life.

Having So Considered (Step Ten continued)

Having so considered our day, not omitting to take due note of things well done, and having searched our hearts with neither fear nor favor, we can truly thank God for the blessings we have received and sleep in good conscience.

The step is “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”  And these are the final words of the text.

Looking back, I see that I started writing on this step in February.  February!  That really shocked me.  I had the feeling that I’d been at it for a month or two.  Not even three.  Certainly not eight months.  All spring and all summer.  Yikes.

The step forward I’ve taken, that I can see from here, is that I’ve come to try to link an excess of negative emotion with a character defect of mine.  I hope this brings me a little closer to understanding “my part” in difficult situations and relationships.  Just looking for “my part” brings me up empty sometimes, when I feel I’m right and I’ve been wronged, but linking that feeling to a character defect of mine helps me focus on me in what I hope is a meaningful way that will help me improve.

We Will Not Regret the Past (from the Promises)

september09 056This is me, messing with literature before the meeting.  That is pizza for the anniversary party, and the flowers belong to the church.  I really like the space we have for my home group.  Also, the church does not charge us rent, though we make a donation each month.

The promise that “we will not regret the past” is one I don’t yet understand well.  When it comes up in conversation (between AA folks) or as a topic in a meeting, I really don’t hear anyone understanding it well, though that may just be my listening.

If I stretch for a meaning, I come up with fact that if I could become perfectly humble and have perfect humility, I would at last understand that I am a person like all other people.  No better and no worse.  Then I guess my past would be just one of unfathomable zillions.

Regret in the dictionary reveals “to feel sorrow or remorse for” or “to think of with a sense of loss.”  I don’t understand how I could fail to feel sorrow, remorse and loss about things in the past.  Some of the synonyms, “deplore, lament, bewail, bemoan, mourn, sorrow, grieve,” OK.  I can readily see that these things are a waste of the present.

Regret, penitence, remorse imply a sense of sorrow about events in the past, usually wrongs committed or errors made. Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done.

Sorrow about events in the past, wrongs committed, errors made – yes.  Distress of mind – not so much.  The program has taught me to right the wrongs as much as possible and move on.  If I spend much time thinking about how bad I am or have been, I am being self-centered as surely as if I spend time thinking about how wonderful I am.

So, I will not have much distress of mind for what I’ve done or failed to do in the past.  I will not regret the past?  I don’t think I can ever make it there.

September 21, 2009 (this day)

Emotionally, I’ve had one of my worst weeks ever.  Truly, ever.  Lots of bad stuff there.  To end the awful week, someone I’ve worked closely with for eight years passed away unexpectedly at the age of 30.

I haven’t been physically sick in a long time, but yesterday when I woke up I thought my throat was on fire.  It’s better now, but I’m stuffed from the tip of my nose through my sinuses and down my throat.  And because I’m such a good employee, I was scheduled off today, so I didn’t have to skip work unexpectedly.  I wanted to clean the house and I’ve done some, but I feel pretty yucky.

Learning Daily to Spot, Admit, and Correct These Flaws (step ten coninuted)

Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living.  An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek.

Saturday night the topic at my meeting was “willingness.”    Several people struggled with the concept of what we should actually be willing to do.  I wish I had written about these sentences beforehand, as I could have contributed something specific from the plan that is the steps.

“A willingness to try for better things tomorrow” summarizes in a way all of AA to me.  To achieve sobriety I had to be willing to take directions and work the program.  As I move through the years, I have to be willing to try for better things tomorrow.

Every day I have to be willing to spot, admit, and correct these flaws.  Thankfully for me they have died down in intensity as I’ve moved farther away from alcohol.  Over the past few weeks, as a result of examining this step closely, I’ve come to understand that when I am “triggered” in pop psychology lingo it is because a character defect of mine has been activated.  I can try to look at the situation that upsets me in terms of my own character defects.

I feel very let down by someone close to me.

Sadly, someone I work with has passed away.  This is someone I took care of for years, and he was quite a character.  He was young, and it was unexpected.

I often picture these folks in heaven, writing notes in the book that will be used to judge me when it’s my time.  I don’t really believe anything like that happens.  I don’t know what happens.  But I want to live so that what they say about me is good.  Simply put, good.  Yet daily I fail to be as good as I know I can be.

When someone like this dies, I have no more chances to be good to that person.  I need to remember that there is nothing but now.


September 20, 2009 (this day)

Willingness – David Ridge

Let my heart be the vessel of God’s Love.
Let my thoughts be the blossom of God’s Love.
Let my words be the expression of God’s Love.
Let my actions be the fulfillment of God’s Love.

Interesting that it’s called Willingness.

I’m not loving and I’m not willing.  God’s Love is not in my heart, thoughts, words or actions.  I’m looking forward to a time when I feel so good that I can be a vessel.
Only when I’m feeling good, right?  Because if there’s something big wrong with little old me, that’s all I can think about.  I become completely self centered.
I haven’t let responsibilities go and I haven’t failed to do the minimum I’m required to do.  But that’s it.  No expressing God’s Love for me.

September 14, 2009 (this day)

A new happiness.

It surely is new.  I cannot remember what I considered to be happiness when I was drinking.  I was a depressed drunk yet unable to stop.

What’s on my mind these days regarding a new happiness?  Honestly today, on this very day, I’m not very happy.  I have a problem with a personal relationship that is getting me down.  At times I think I’m very weak and that I won’t be able to handle a very big disappointment or tragedy, like something awful happening to one of my kids.  I know that thinking about such things is a total waste of time.    I pay attention to the examples set by people who have lived through something like that.  Sometimes I think I’m too dependent, too codependent, but how can we have relationships without the risk of being devastated?

More on Oldtimers

I don’t know why I’ve neglected to do this for so long, and I’ll blame my lack of computer knowledge and the difficulties of going between Blogger and WordPress.  I’ve blogrolled Elegant Blessings, inspired today by Akannie’s post on Friday about some of the reasons oldtimers need to make meetings.

The rest of the blog is inspiring as well.