We Will Suddenly Realize (promises)

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

For me this brings to mind that bible verses I quoted before:

Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

When I try to think about “why me?” Why have I gotten it when others haven’t? I tend to think that at some point I became willing to ask for help and accept help and suggestions. This is not just in AA but in much of life. I see God working through people, and trying to improve is, to me, being open to the help of other people. There is improvement possible in all areas of my life, and there are resources to help me get there.

Drinking I was so incapable of doing anything for myself that I was about to stop even living, I’m sure of it. All the rest of what I’ve done has not been me doing it, but me with the help of God and the program.

November 27, 2009 (this day)

This picture is from last Thanksgiving, but not much has changed.  Thankfully, my mother and the old cat pictured are here this year.  They haven’t replayed this scene yet but it is an annual event.  We have new kitchen paint and a new kitchen floor since this was taken.  The coat that was on the chair is back on the chair since I took it out this morning to try and walk the dog in the cold.

I had a great Thanksgiving yesterday with the “nuclear” family and everyone is well and got along together.  This morning I’m having a hard time being more grateful than that, to be honest.  I’m annoyed and a bit sad even as I know I “shouldn’t” be.

My mother and Carole get along fine and at times this can almost be a bad thing.  They tend to gang up on me though Carole has been trying not to do it for the past several years, and she’s gotten better at avoiding it, it still happens, and it does affect my mood for a bit.  The kids are doing well but both are about to make more transitions, both to graduate school.  That’s a good, very excellent thing, but my mother will tend to make me worry about it more than is healthy.  No worry is healthy.  After all these years of practice she still can push my buttons with that kind of thing.  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone but all the worrying I did in the past about events that are now actually long past helped me not one bit.

Carole has a few physical complaints going on and that certainly brings my mood down a notch or two.  Again, I “should” know better and be better at detaching than I am.

I’m concerned (not worried?  right) about the inspections at work that will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.  My mother being here means I won’t even go into work on Monday and I’ll be late and Tuesday.

My May plane flights loom over my head all the time.

There’s a very unpleasant musty smell that is all over my house, but especially in my room.  It’s pretty awful and I can’t even begin to identify the source or start to get rid of it until Tuesday.  It is ghastly and hard to live with.

I thinks that’s it.  Carole and my mother have gone to the mall (Black Friday) and later we’ll visit Erika and her cats.  The nicer Erika is the less I want her to leave for graduate school.  And I really don’t want to tend to her stuff and cats while she’s gone.  I’m now moving on to the next activity to try and snap myself out of my funk.

Gratitude, the Never-Ending Concept

Some people on Facebook have challenged each other to post something they are grateful for daily for a week or so.  Some people have run out of ideas before the two weeks were up.  Really?  I am grateful (yes) to have been cultivating the “attitude of gratitude” for years.  I think I will never finish or fill my gratitude list.  Here’s some of it.  I know these people who can’t think of anything else to be grateful for have most of what is on my list, they just haven’t realized that these are things to be grateful for.  That I did as a requirement of my continued sobriety is a huge deal in my life.  It has changed my life.

  1. AA
  2. AA meetings that are plentiful and diverse
  3. Airplanes that are safe, accessible and affordable
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Antihistamines
  6. Antiques and heirlooms
  7. Art
  8. Babies
  9. Beaches to visit, and as part of my landscape growing up
  10. Bed
  11. Blogs to read from the comfort of my home
  12. Boats
  13. Bones for the dog
  14. Books on CD for the car ride
  15. Books to own and borrow without censorship
  16. Calculators
  17. Car
  18. Car insurance
  19. Caregivers
  20. Cat litter (was there life before cat litter?)
  21. Change
  22. Chemotherapy
  23. Children (adult children)
  24. Church that is diverse, accepting and traditional
  25. Cities that are safe and interesting
  26. Clergy
  27. Clouds
  28. Coffee
  29. Computers at home and work and many other places
  30. Cousins (as an only child, they’ve meant a lot to me)
  31. Crocheting and a crochet teacher
  32. Democracy and elections
  33. Dental implants
  34. Dentists
  35. Dialysis
  36. Digital cameras
  37. Dog parks
  38. Dogs
  39. Ebay
  40. Electricity
  41. Employment in a safe, comfortable place – in a job that lets me serve others
  42. Eyeglasses
  43. Eyesight that is good and easily corrected to perfect
  44. Faith
  45. Family
  46. Fire
  47. Fire fighters
  48. Five senses – touch, taste, smell, hearing, seeing
  49. (anti) Flea treatments – my life before them was often infested
  50. Food that is affordable, plentiful, safe and interesting
  51. Friends
  52. Gay – being openly, safely gay
  53. Glasses that correct eyesight
  54. Graduations – the ones I’ve achieved, and the ones my loved ones have achieved
  55. Grandparents, especially my mother’s parents, who helped raise me
  56. Gratitude and the ability to appreciate things
  57. Hawaii
  58. Health insurance
  59. Heating pads
  60. Hillary Clinton and the historic campaign
  61. History
  62. Holidays
  63. House that I love
  64. Intelligence
  65. Kittens
  66. Libraries
  67. Mammography
  68. Medical attention that is some of the best in the world
  69. Medical insurance that is excellent
  70. Medications that are plentiful and affordable
  71. Menopause (especially that I’ve lived this long)
  72. Mobility and the ability to get from place to place
  73. Mouse traps
  74. Music
  75. My mother
  76. Nature
  77. Neighbors
  78. Netflix – so much info, so close at hand
  79. Newcomers who make us remember what we’re here for, what is was like, and what we don’t want to return to
  80. Non-violence, the attitude my parents raised me with
  81. Novocaine
  82. Obama – love him, and that I got to see this and participate
  83. Oldtimers who don’t drink but keep coming to meetings
  84. Paid holidays, vacations and sick leave
  85. Pain relievers – Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and aspirin
  86. Parks
  87. Peace
  88. People of my prayer list
  89. Pepsi
  90. Pets – current, past and future
  91. Pet food
  92. Pet sitters
  93. Plants – to eat and grow for the yard, for the dog
  94. Police
  95. Puppies
  96. Rain (every living thing needs water)
  97. Rainbows (are cheerful, no matter what)
  98. Reading – the physical and mental ability, and the desire and love
  99. Recycling, often made easy (curbside pick up)
  100. Religion – freedom of and from
  101. Roads that are paved, plowed, salted and somewhat safe
  102. Safety – the relative safety of my environment, always
  103. School – good schools, for me and for my kids
  104. Seasons
  105. Serenity
  106. Smoking – the ability to quit
  107. Sobriety
  108. Sonograms and sonogram technicians
  109. Stores – nearby, and well stocked with everything I need or want
  110. Sun and sunlight
  111. Teachers
  112. Television
  113. Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  114. Town
  115. Transportation that is safe and available for going places near and far
  116. Two pregnancies, two children
  117. Vaccines
  118. Water that is clean, safe and plentiful, and hot!
  119. Weather that is safe and varied and not too extreme
  120. Wifey
  121. Wireless internet
  122. Work partner Irene who covers for me when I need her to
  123. Yarn that is affordable, plentiful and interesting

As We Have Seen, Self-Searching is the Means (Step Eleven continued)

As we have seen, self-searching is the means by which we bring new vision, action and grace to bear upon the dark and negative side of our natures.  It is a step in the development of that kind of humility that makes it possible to us to receive God’s help.  Yet it is only a step.  We will want to go further.

It’s interesting to me to think about what life would be like without the influence of AA.  In every situation for as long as I can remember, I have always had to contemplate what is wrong with me that this situation is troubling me.  At the very least I know that my trouble is not accepting what has come my way, although nothing unique comes my way.  The things that happen to me happen to everyone.

We Will Intuitively Know How to Handle Situations (promises)

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

intuition – –noun

1. direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.
2. a fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way.
3. a keen and quick insight.
4. the quality or ability of having such direct perception or quick insight.

For me there can be no question that the fog of alcohol made understanding anything pretty impossible.

I love the paradoxes of AA and alcoholism.  “The trap door had become a trap.”  I thought I understood things better under the influence.  I thought it made me calmer and turned down some of the noise in my head so I could just go along with things better.  I can see now that it clouded each and every thing in my life and put my understanding further back each time.

More recently, I know that as I live longer and experience more I grow in understanding and appreciation.  For me, getting older in time and older in the program work together, I think, to reveal more to me about the way the world works and how I can work within it.

As an example, I often find that first thing in the morning at work is difficult for me because of tricky staff scheduling.  Because I see it as difficult, I’ve tried to apply what I can from the program to that situation and hopefully I get better at it and less distressed.  The situation won’t change but me thoughts about it can and will.

As I try to become a better dog walker, I work on my internal thoughts and the way I handle the dog.  As I read books and watch shows about dogs I increase my understanding of them and I improve my ability to “handle situations.”

There is the passage of time, and essentially the passage of time that is sober and clear.  There’s also the philosophy of the program that makes me want to improve all situations, and gives me a framework to use and help with using it.

Special Providences (words to live by)

I do not believe in special providences.  I believe that the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws.  If one man’s family is swept away by a pestilence and another man’s spared it is only the law working: God is not interfering in that small matter, either against the one man or in favor of the other. — Mark Twain

This concept does not, to me, mean therefore there is no God.  What is means to me is that I have been very very lucky, and I don’t know when my luck will change.  It means to me that I am the same as everyone else.  I haven’t been spared for a reason.  It’s completely up to me if I use my good luck to benefit others.

It’s not tit for tat in the universe of karma, but AA gives me special reasons to help others.  It tells me that I can’t continue to do well unless I help others.  I take it seriously and I would help, I hope, even if I didn’t actually need to.  But I won’t find that out in this lifetime.

November 18, 2009 (this day)

These next few weeks will be hectic.  My mother is visiting for Thanksgiving, coming from Monday until the next Tuesday.  I’ve taken time off from work around that, but we have inspections on that Tuesday and Wednesday.  At work, we also have a Thanksgiving feast, an open house where we sells crafty things, and a Christmas party.  Kind of makes me look forward to the after Christmas lull.

I have a resentment that stings like a bitch!  Someone treated me badly (the admonishment I wrote of earlier) and I don’t know how to deal with it.  Forgiveness is not a problem.  This person is forgiven.  Now what?  Act like nothing happened?  I feel like I’ve been struck.   Demand an apology?  That seems like forcing someone to adhere to a religion, completely missing the point.  I just don’t know what to do.  Or refrain from doing.

But an upside already is that I appreciate so much more the way my parents, really my mother raised me, in a nonviolent way.  Yelling at people, swearing, showing anger and trying to overpower someone is not acceptable to me.  It’s not going to get my cooperation (maybe because I am obstinate it will do the opposite and set me in opposition).  I’m so very glad my I don’t approach life this way and when I do display these things, I recognize this is a complete breakdown of civility for me.  I’m also grateful that this really doesn’t come up for me.  The last time I can think of is when the irate father of a little boy yelled at me for accusing the boy of hitting my daughter when they were five years old and waiting for the bus.  The father then spied on the kids and came back and apologized when he saw the situation for himself.  That was a sincere apology but, in my book, he had acted wrongly to begin with even if he believed his child to be innocent.

OK, time for me to put away “my book.”

There is a Direct Linkage (Step Eleven continued)

There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer.  Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit.  But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.  Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God’s kingdom.  And we will be comforted and assured that our own destiny in that realm will be secure for so long as we try, however falteringly, to find and do the will of our Creator.

Houston, I have a problem.

I love AA I live AA I am AA.

My destiny in the realm?  I can’t look at this as a promise of an afterlife.  I can’t.  So keeping that in mind (firmly), I’ll go on.

I don’t know what happened to me to make me so determined to separate religion and spirituality from promises of eternity.  But anyway.

I need to put down the book for a minute or six.


And (fear) of Ecomonic Insecurity will Leave Us (promises)

september09 020I love fading ads and I like to think of all the time and money, energy and hope that went into things that are now gone.

Like a good AA, I realize the promise is that my fear will leave me, not actual economic insecurity.

One of the aspects of AA that I love is that it does not promise a rose garden.  I hear lots of members voice that everything has always worked out for them, and so they expect it will continue to do so.  But I don’t think that way.

The Big Book lists calamities that happen to people beyond what I have had to endure, so I know the program doesn’t say these things won’t happen.  Just that I have a chance to endure them and come out a better person if I work the program.

I’ve come a long way with this fear.  I had a “depression” mentality passed down to me from my grandparents, who were young adults during the Great Depression, through my mother and to me.  As far as we descendants know and can tell, my grandparents did not suffer great deprivation or any hunger during the depression.  The nearest suffering of that type that I know about happened to my great grandmother and her daughter and her daughters two children when they were German refugees inside Germany during WWII.

As a young adult myself, I was very frightened of economic insecurity, especially after my daughter was born.  I did not want to put her in daycare, and her father was out of work several times during her babyhood.  I had different fears when I was on my own with the two kids, but I had realized some time before that that most of the homeless families I saw on TV had, for whatever reason, no support.  I had the support of my mother and in-laws, and I wouldn’t be homeless no matter what.

So I learned that as I went along.  Working the program and practicing positive, realistic thinking helped tremendously.  Also I’m sure that just aging and maturing helped me get over my fear.

I was just talking to my mother about how things are where she and I used to work.  There have, for the first time ever, been layoffs there, and it’s frightening.  She was telling me about a friend of hers who works there and is married with two children in their 30s.  Many years ago, the friend’s husband lost what would have been thought of as a life long career with a big defense contractor.  That’s when the friend went back to work with my mother.  Since then her kids have graduated from college with degrees in music and both are living home, unemployed.  The husband is also unemployed.

So much of it has to do with the economy.  It makes us be a bit frightened for Nicholas, since he is racking up major college debt.  He goes to a wonderful school and he is very bright, but you never know.  And it causes me concern, but not fear.

Carole has been able to provide me and Nicholas with health insurance since her employer started covering same sex partners.  I show up as “dependent” on the insurance card and I really want everyone to know that I am not dependent, and I have and still can cover myself and my dependent child all by myself.  For today.

November 15, 2009 (this day)

I hardly slept last night because of a pain in my neck.  Two weeks ago, I did something to my neck, and it’s been mildly achy to very ouchy off and on since then.  Mostly it would hurt when I turned my head in the car to see my blind spot.  I know there’s a metaphor there somewhere.  But the night before last I had a hard time laying down.  The bad pain has actually moved to the other side now.  Last night it was impossible, once I’d laid down, for me to move at all without bad pain.  So that made sleeping difficult.

I don’t like doctors and I don’t like massage and I really don’t like pills.  I’m sitting here with a heating pad wrapped around my neck and I’m wondering if I try not to move it today, if that will help it feel better.  I’ve also taken three Ibuprofen and this is just no fun at all.

What was fun was my meeting last night.  Some friends brought their dogs over and that’s stressful, but my happiness that my big girl has company, even if she’d rather not, outweighs the stress of barking dogs.  Our yard is fenced and our meeting is across the street so they left their dogs here for the meeting.

At the meeting, the woman I asked to tell her story and lead the discussion revealed that her sobriety year is 1984, like mine.  There was one other person there from the class of ’84 which I thought was amazing.  Others were celebrating anniversaries – 17 years, two years, and 8 months.  And a woman was there for her very first meeting.  All that put together was so cool.  I can’t help but wonder if the newcomer will be one of the lucky ones, even as I know the odds are against it.

I also have a bit of jealousy for some of the people who got sober around here and are still here.  I did not know the other 1984s when I was getting sober.  They were here and I was 400 miles away.  There are very sadly few people I know from when I was getting sober.  I can think of four who I could call and they would know who I am.  One I’m still in touch with because her daughter moved to my exact present location shortly after I moved.  One I never lost touch with but I’ve only seen her once since I moved, because she also moved away from where we lived, but in a different direction.  One woman and I had baby girls one years and one day apart, and because of the kindergarten cut off date where I lived when Erika started school, when we moved back home, she was in the same class and became friends with this woman’s daughter.  So we’ve been in touch and our daughters are still “Facebook” friends.

So anyway I do feel the jealousy of the longer history some of these people have with each other.  But it’s just a twinge and I stamp it down fast.  I’m very abundantly blessed in this time and in this place and even my pain in the neck is temporary.  Today is going to be another great weather day and I’ll take the darn computer outside to keep the dogs company in the awesome fall day.