January 30, 2010 (this day)

Beyond restless, irritable and way beyond discontent.

I have female issues.  Menopause.  Ug.  I have a fever blister.  It’s frigidly cold for the I-don’t-know-how-many days in a row, so no exercise, walks, or outside time for the dog.  Again.  Everything is frozen and crusted with salt.  Or, in my house, covered with dirt, the remnants of the rampant mud that was here before the frigid cold.  At least the cold has hard frozen the mud.  My skin is so dry it hurts, and the inside of my nose bleeds when I blow it.  My wife is mad at me.  Our son wants us to take him clothes and food shopping.  My hair straightener just broke (after I said so many times that everything is better with straight hair).  For the first time ever, I owe money on my taxes.  I’m not going to enjoy my meeting tonight like I could and should if all this wasn’t happening.  It’s the two-year anniversary of one of our very few members.  A miracle that happened right before my very eyes.  I want chocolate.

Meditation is Something (Step 11 continued)

Meditation is something which can always be further developed.  It has no boundaries, either of width or height.  Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, it is essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in his own way.  But its object is always the same:  to improve our conscious contact with God, with His grace, wisdom, and love.  And let’s always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical.  One of its first fruits is emotional balance.  With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand Him.

I imagine that instruction in the art of meditation is easily found.  I have never cared to look for it or to learn from it.  I still don’t like the idea.

About two years ago, Carole, our friend and I attended a Quaker service.  It was one hour of silence and it was intense!  Carole and our friend hated it, though Carole said she could do it again if she knew ahead of time that’s what it was going to be.  I didn’t mind it, but I can’t say I remember what I thought about or gained anything from it.

I understand that what I’m doing with, say, my fear of flying, is a kind of meditation when I rehearse a successful flight.  I can see that it is a beneficial way to use my imagination.  In that way I guess it helps me along the road to emotional balance.  With flying, though, I’ve a long, long way to go.

Restless, Irritable, and Discontent (RID)

unquiet or uneasy

easily irritated or annoyed; readily excited to impatience or anger

dissatisfied

Unserene.  I “should” be quiet, easy, not easily annoyed, patient, not easily excited to anger.  I should be satisfied.

I believe the string of these three words comes from The Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book.  It is describing something that often happens to active alcoholics.  As a recovering alcoholic, I wish it wasn’t so easy for me to identify with the words and the feelings.

It’s the “there’s no big thing wrong, just too many little ones for me to be serene.”

It is a lack of acceptance.

Sometimes, for me, it will be something like a persistent, though not awful, physical pain.  Sometimes it could be a nagging worry or a long stretch of bad weather.

Bottom line for me is that the things I usually find soothing, enjoyable or relaxing will fail to soothe, calm or relax me to the degree which they might when I’m in a better frame of mind.

I’m grateful that I’m trying to follow a program that reveals these things to me, that I realize these states of mind are not to be encouraged and fed, and that the program points to a way out.

January 18, 2010 (this day)

My friend Sofie is in town again.  She’s someone I knew from the beginning of – actually before the beginning of my sobriety.  We’ve kept in touch all these years.  A few years after I moved away from my hometown, Sofie’s daughter moved to the very place where I landed.  Last year, Sofie’s daughter had a baby.  Since my mother retired, and I don’t go to my hometown anymore, I get to see Sofie when she comes to visit her daughter.  This is amazing and priceless to me.  I can’t believe how fortunate I am that it worked out this way.

Carole and I visited Sofie and her husband Marcel and the baby today.  The baby is like a television baby.  One year old, adorable, agreeable, and very very good.  Carole and I had planned to go there for an hour, then go to a meeting near there, then go home.  The area is not the same as ours – it is another suburb of the same city.  Sort of.  Anyway we don’t go to those meetings and I like to go to different meetings.  The meeting we picked out is one where Marcel goes sometimes when he’s visiting.

  • Between Carole and Sofie, Marcel and I, we must have about 100 years of sobriety in one room.
  • I started a meeting here in the style reminiscent of the meetings back home.
  • I prefer the AA of my hometown to the AA of here.
  • Marcel prefers the AA of here to the AA of my hometown.
  • Marcel loves the meeting we attended, and I was not impressed.
  • I thought they were Big Book thumpers in the worst sense of the word.
  • I learned that the two main AA hangout diners of my hometown are not there anymore.  I guess they’ve both gone away within the past two years.
  • I have mourned those diners as here we go to a chain type of restaurant for the meeting after the meeting.
  • When I find that I don’t like a particular meeting, I have six kabillion others to choose from.
  • There are sober people at that meeting, at my meeting, in my hometown and here.
  • I am aware that I am lucky and blessed to be one of them today.

January 16, 2010 (this day)

I did write ‘2009’ in the title.  Time goes by so quickly.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this year

  • Carole and I will have been together for 13 years
  • I will turn 48 years old
  • My daughter will turn 25
  • I will have been at my place of employment for 12 years
  • I’ll have two college graduate children
  • My high school class will have a 30th reunion
  • I’ll mark 26 years of sobriety

~I won’t reach menopause.  That will have to wait until at least 2011.

These numbers seem huge to me and I can’t believe I’ve lived this long.

Today I took Carole to the doctor and this is a huge difference between us, which sometimes causes strife. I imagine there will be more frequent trips to the doctor as we continue to get older.  I hate going and try to avoid it if humanly possible.  I tend to think I’ll be alright.  Carole goes all the time, for everything.  And no, I’m not being judgmental about it.

Let me just say that when we made it to the doctor today, her diagnosis was a cut finger.

A Bridge (prayer)

Buddhist Prayer of Peace

May I become at all times, both now and forever, a protector for those without protection, a guide for those who have lost their way, a ship for those with oceans to cross, a bridge for those with rivers to cross, a sanctuary for those in danger, a lamp for those without light, a place of refuge for those who lack shelter, and a servant to all in need.


Perfect!  I brought my binder of prayers to my work meeting.  The stress of today is a change.  Change upsets everyone.  Some in a good way, most in a bad way.

There are oceans and rivers to cross.  What should I be?  A bridge, a ship.  Reading it this morning, in the meeting, I could see it.  The change should be easier on everyone because I am here.

That sounds self-centered and prideful, but I am in a unique position to help things go well.  To help.  The outcome is not in my hands, but the way I conduct myself on the journey is.  And my conduct could, in a small way, actually change things.

That’s so nice and clear.  But the predicament isn’t.  If the change is a bad one, I think I’m called to work against it.  If the change is a good one, I think I’m called to help it succeed.  I am often quite mistaken about what’s good and what’s bad here.  And just now, I really don’t know.

Next Came the Expression of an Aspiration (Step Eleven continued)

Next came the expression of an aspiration and a hope for himself.  He hoped, God willing, that he might be able to find some of these treasures, too.  This he would try to do by what he called self-forgetting.  What did he mean by “self-forgetting,” and how did he propose to accomplish that?

He thought it better to give comfort that to receive it; better to understand than to be understood; better to forgive than to be forgiven.

This much could be a fragment of what is called meditation, perhaps our very first attempt at a mood, a flier into the realm of spirit, if you like.  It ought to be followed by a good look at where we stand now, and a further look at what might happen in our lives were we able to move closer to the ideal we have been trying to glimpse.

Acting my way into right thinking, rather than thinking my way into right actions.  Using my imagination to try to envision what the person I want to be would do, and how she would feel.  Trying to emulate someone I admire, someone who has done it well.

Resentment

The topic that must be bashed till it’s dead.  The emotional that has the power to kill.

A few hours ago, I had one.  I was at a training with others in my field, and one of my employees mentioned that she didn’t get signed up for a class she needed on time.  The manager of another department shared that he has all his staff on a spread sheet, knows when their training is due, and duly signs them up.

Well.

He has five staff.  I have between 25 and 30.  He inherited his position from someone who was impeccably organized.  I got mine after oh, probably, easily, five years of confusion and neglect on the part of the manager, when there was a manager, which there often wasn’t.

So, easy for him.

So, hard for me.  I get a feeling of displeasure because I perceive he has insulted me.  I swiftly, seamlessly, automatically switch to my AA way of thinking, that probably no, he was just trying to share something helpful, an answer to a stated problem to which he has a solution.  And while it’s not AA, I also always remind myself of the truism that I cannot, cannot, ever ever know another person’s motivation.  Sometimes I don’t even know my own.

Boy the resentments keep coming, and I really do try not to let them stay.  Perhaps tomorrow I will ask to see his spreadsheet.  Probably not.

January 4, 2010 (this day)

I’ve just gotten home from work and I want to eat something, and drink something, but the animals must be fed first or they will give me no peace.  Lots of my daily stuff is dominated by animals, especially the old ones.  The cat pictured is 19 years old.  And we can’t keep him off the counters.  When we must keep him off the counters, we have to shut him in the bathroom.  He is relentless.

I went to work today after lots of days off.  Snow and cold dominate that scene, and I’m afraid my staff often suffer from Monday-morning-itis.  It’s awful.  And there I got sucked into my Monday morning unhappiness yet again.  So predictable.  I really need to change my attitude about these Monday mornings.  Especially when I can see them coming from a mile away, for goodness sake, they arrive on a very predictable schedule.

I haven’t been feeling well since Saturday night, and I’m a wimp about not feeling well.  Mostly because I always feel well.  Anyway I’m afraid to eat.  Then, I don’t eat.  Then, I feel better, so I eat.  Then I know I shouldn’t have eaten.

I’ve re registered on a diet site and I will attempt to lose weight again.  I’m five pounds less than I was at this time last year, so at least that’s a step in the right direction.  Menopause is not for wimps.  I’ve joined a book challenge for 2010 and I’m attempting to read 25 books.  So far I haven’t finished any.  I’m planning to work from home on Friday, and I’ve worked ahead two hours so that on the actual day I can go to a day time meeting.

The other thing about the cold, snow and animals is that I can’t exercise the dog, and neither can Carole.  After I conquer my fear of flying, my attitude and distress about not being the perfect dog mom are on my personal agenda.

When, By Such Simple Devices (Step Eleven continued)

When, by such simple devices, we have place ourselves in a mood in which we can focus undisturbed on constructive imagination, we might proceed like this:
Once more we read our prayer, and again try to see what its inner essence is.  We’ll think now about the man who first uttered the prayer.  First of all, he wanted to become a “channel.”  Then he asked for grace to bring love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy to every human being he could.

Again I find that the ideals the program hold out for me a priceless to me.

I have used the “channel” metaphor many many many times through the years in times of emotional crisis and indecision.  I can picture God’s peace as a sort of something in heaven that can flow through me to earthlings who are giving me trouble.

That well known prayer tells me what it is I am to bring to situations.

I don’t honestly know if I’ve progressed or gotten anywhere very far with prayer and meditation, but I do know that the repetition through the years of at least these few selected prayers have penetrated my brain and become part of my thought process.