February 25, 2011 (this day)

So here I sit worried about two things.  Number one, my work partner got violently ill yesterday, and I’m just counting the minutes until I get it.  It’s been just over 24 hours since this happened, and so far I feel fine.  Number two is the snow.  Par for the course in my neck of the woods in February.  It’s falling, and forecasted to be a very small amount, but just last Monday the forecast was very wrong about that, and although I didn’t get stuck, of course I saw many people on the news who did.  And I’m at work “alone,” at least in charge alone, because of worry number one.  Number two and a half, my daughter Erika is in a much snowier place, forecasted to get a huge amount of snow.  I talked to her last night and she’s sick.  That would be worry 2.75.

I HATE it!  I “should” be so much better at this by now.  I remember so clearly, sitting at a meeting in my hometown on a Saturday night many years ago, worried about the falling snow and deciding then, many years ago now, to give up this habit of worrying about snow.  Carole is home and the animals are fine.

Looking at the character defect du jour and the character defect list, I come first to rationalizing and minimizing.  Surely, as I get ready to beat myself up for thinking in terms of how I “should” be, the thoughts creep in that this really isn’t “so” bad.  No, it’s not so bad.  But it’s not so good, either, and I’d like to be done with it.

Resentment?  No
Rigidity and fear of change?  No
Sarcasm, cruelty, meanness?  A tiny bit toward myself, but no.

Self-centered, selfish, self-seeking?  Ah ha!  Spending excessive time thinking about myself?  Check!  Considering myself first in situations?  Check!  Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others?  Check!  And check again, even when it’s my daughter I’m worried about.  This is still “me” and “mine,” and she’s probably OK, and there’s nothing I can do from here.

And so, I will now stop thinking about myself and what I’m worried about, as much as I can.  I’m going out my door into a building full of people who I’m blessed beyond measure to be with today.  People who have much more to worry about than I do.  And some maybe are more worried, but I think that most aren’t, and I can learn from their example.

Tradition Five

Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

I have not personally been acquainted with AA groups that tried to do something else.  The text of the tradition goes on to describe a group of doctors, who, working together, could fashion a cure for cancer.  Separately they could work on their own talents or specialties, but they would have to sacrifice that to cure cancer, which of course they would do.

It then describes an early 12th step during which the 12th stepper had to approach the person in the hospital with alcoholism and AA only, and it goes on to say that if the guy had been approached with religion or business advice, he would have balked.

To me, it’s just more of the magic of the organization that hangs together so loosely, and so strong.

Can We Fine a New Joy (Step Twelve continued)

Can we find a new joy of living in trying to do something about all these things?

These things are revealed in the previous questions.  These things are my job, my family, my religion, my life.

A “new” joy, yes.  I was anything but joyful when I was drinking.  And I did have some of the joy that escaping disaster brings when I stopped drinking.  But that was a long time ago.

Actual joy, now, isn’t all that common for me.  I absolutely do give thought to making my family, my job, my religion, my world, all better because I am a part of them.  I often do try to do something about a situation that needs help.

There are always a few “buts.”  The work is good, but there’s only so much one person can do about any given thing.  My family is good but the kids are always one disaster away from devastating me, but my mother is showing signs of age, but my relationship is in the second decade, but I might not live to see my relationship legally sanctioned by my government.  My pets are good but two are ancient, and sometimes I almost hurts to look at them being so old.

My life is good, my mood is generally good, but joy of living is something that today I have to say I find to be rare and fleeting.

February 13, 2011 (this day)

I just got back from a weekend with a friend visiting her nephew at his school and Erika at hers.  These kids are amazing, and I’m feeling very blessed to see just a fraction of what they do and what they know.  An incredible reward of the program that I get to experience this stuff.

Tradition Four

Every group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

Why yes, yes they should.

The story contained in the text of this Tradition can make me an AA nerd.  I’ve heard of Rule #62 many time, but now I know where it comes from!


Blogs I read

In a further attempt to avoid writing about Tradition Four, I offer instead a short explanation of what appears in my blog roll.

Actually, I’ve wanted to do this for some.  But recently, when I’ve tried to comment on two different Blogger blogs, I got some kind of error, and couldn’t post.  I wish I had more time to read blogs and comment.  I subscribe to the ones I read in the Google Reader, and sometimes when I open it up I have more than 40 things to read.  They’re not all from these blogs, since I also read some others that are really off topic or that are written by personal friends and have nothing to do with AA.  But when I see more than 40 to read, I tend to just plow through a bit.  The two Bloggers blog in particular that I tried to comment on and couldn’t, I just couldn’t stop and fiddle with it and I didn’t want to make a new profile, I wanted to post as “me.”  I’ll try again in the near future.  It’s 2011, right?  Shouldn’t be this hard.

First, ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST.  Gabriella Moonlight just celebrated five years sober.  I don’t remember when I started reading her, but over the past two years (give or take) I’ve been inspired and uplifted by what she’s gone through and how she copes.  And grows.  Gabriella, if you read this, know that yours in one of the Blogger blogs I haven’t been able to comment on lately (though I could in the past – why?).  I will try again soon.  Honestly, in real life, I do not go in for most of the mystical, spiritual things that she does, but this is truly one of the most profound gifts of the program in my life, that I can so easily learn from those who are so different from me.

The Three Legged Stool is another Blogger blog I’ve been unable to comment on.  I really appreciate their effort to, as they say, “go deeper.”  As an oldtimer, I do get so tired of hearing about “when I first stopped drinking.”  I recently tried to say something about their post on “anonymity and shame,” and I wasn’t able to.  I’ll try again soon.

I still really enjoy writing this blog (except when I try to write about Tradition Four), and reading sobriety blogs is something I do to maintain my sobriety.  AND it just may be that it IS in place of a meeting.  I go to at least one, usually two, sometimes three meetings a week.  I will never stop going to meetings voluntarily.  I’m glad that after a few decades of sobriety, I found something enjoyable to add to what I do to stay sober.  And I hear all the oldtimers who were old when I started (hence, they are surely dead) saying, “We are not here to entertain you . . . .”

February 1, 2011 (this day)

A stream of consciousness, written to avoid writing about (really, reading about) Tradition Four.

This time of year is tough, with the unrelenting cold and ice and snow.  There are no “big” holidays and every day is a battle to get out the door and get somewhere safely.  Even when the roads are relatively clear, there’s a constant stream of yuck thrown up on the windshield and an endless stream of windshield washer fluid pouring out into the world just so we can see.

Football.  I despise it.  Truly.  It is so very wrong.  Millionaire men seeing who can smash whom the hardest.  The language of football is the language of war.  The resources that go into football make me weep.  Not so much the pro football, but in football for the children, football over books, football that endangers their very brains.  It is everywhere right now, and I hate it.  My problem, entirely.  I’m apparently not quite ready to have God remove this defect of character.

Sunday, instead of watching football, I will go to a meeting, and I hope there’s someone there in addition to me and the friend I asked to meet me there.  It’s very possible there won’t be.  But in talking about it today, this friend asked me why I love this particular meeting.  It’s not in my neighborhood and I pass many meetings to get there.  The “home” group is mostly if not entirely men, and I’m sorry, but I vastly prefer the company of women.

But.  For one thing, it’s different.  Just the sameness of AA meetings repeated for hours a week over what feels like a lifetime – for me, truly, it is a lifetime.  Just the sameness can cause people to drift away, I’m sure of it.  I vow to myself and my God who gave me this second chance at life that I will not drift away so long as I am able to attend, but not everyone shares my commitment.  Hardly anyone does.  But anyway, something different is nice, just because it’s different.  I know that I was raised that way, to prefer diversity, and I’m grateful.

Beyond that, of course, something can’t be good just because it is different.  At this meeting they read the big book, but they then discuss it in a way I haven’t experienced at any other meeting.  They have an actual discussion, rather than raising hands or taking turns or only having one turn.  An actual discussion.  That’s different, and in a good way.

The people who attend the meeting are smart.  I’ve recently stopped apologizing for being smart (and having smart children).  Being smart is a good thing, a gift, like artistic ability or athletic ability or some other ability.  I wish everyone could be smart, because it’s a good thing.  Given that everyone can’t be, I’m grateful that I (temporarily) am, and I enjoy being intellectually stimulated.  The discussion at this meeting is at a high intellectual level that not everyone would follow or enjoy.

AA is not a “smart” program.  Above average intelligence is by no means required to get it, thank goodness.  But like anything else, I believe, it can be intelligently enjoyed and explored an exercised in a way that, personally, gives me pleasure.  They do that at this meeting.

Some of the oldtimers and some of the newer people there have studied AA and AA history in a way that makes what they say interesting to me.  Again, I enjoy history.  I am on no crusade to bring AA back to the way it used to be.  Times change!  But I find history interesting and enjoyable and, for me, it adds to my experience.  I don’t question the credentials of the people at the meeting.  I know full well that they may be full of hot air and spouting things that are wrong or worse.  That would never endanger my sobriety.  I guess it could endanger sobriety for some, and they should certainly stay away.

So I’m very much looking forward to this meeting, and I will be disappointed if it’s a bomb or worse, if no one shows up because they’re too busy doing something else …….