September 15, 2011 (this day)

It’s our first day of fall-like weather and the stink bugs have not yet made an appearance.  I went to work today before the dentist because, in some of the work badness, there is a staff shortage, and I went to help out.  Otherwise I would have taken the day off for the dentist.  I feel completely wrecked after the dentist, and all I had was a cleaning.  I go every three months now, in an effort to keep my teeth, and I’m grateful that the dentist is here and that I can afford to her pay her, but I really hate going to the dentist.

At home, after I walked the dog and before I went to the dentist, I called a few people, looking for someone to “lead” the meeting on Saturday by telling their story and leading a discussion.  It’s interesting to me, looking for someone not readily available in real life.  Actually I had gone to a meeting Tuesday night hoping to find someone, and the one person I asked couldn’t do it this week.  The meeting I went to was too male, I decided.  But anyway I keep numbers in my phone the way I used to have a book.  I vaguely remember the first little address books I kept in order to have AA numbers ready.  In those days, I didn’t call to find leads but to establish connections and avoid drinking.  I guess that’s one more thing that’s different now, people keep numbers in their phones and not in a book.  What will it be 30 years from now?  I can’t imagine.

The second call I made was successful, so there will be a leader this Saturday night.  Sometimes when our small number of home group members strike out, and we have no lead, we do something called a “topic bag” wherein each person chooses, in turn, a topic from a bag and speaks on it.  There’s no chance to know what your topic will be and so, the thought is, no time to rehearse what you will say, and so you will listen better.  I know I do.  Some people really hate that format.

My son had his foster kittens over last night, and that is a picture of one.  They are so tiny, whereas my own new babies are six months old now, and huge by comparison.  They grow so very quickly.  My son said he won’t have any problem handing these over to the shelter for adoption in a few more weeks, and that he’s going to foster again, though he’ll take a break in between.

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Using the Telephone

I kind of hate it.  And cell phones have made it worse.  I don’t like talking on them.  It’s awkward when you talk at the same time, and cut out, and try to come back, and talk at the same time again.

This particular tool has changed so much since I first started in AA.  Back then, to call someone, you had to pick up a phone, attached to a building, and dial.  Then, if they were home, they would answer, and if they weren’t, they wouldn’t.  Or their spouse or child might answer.  You didn’t know who would answer, and they didn’t know who was calling.  And you had to leave a message with a person, if one answered.  And you had to hope the person you were calling got the message, because they might not.

My first sponsor had me do the excellent exercise of calling someone else in the program every day, besides her.  No I’ll amend that to talking on the phone to someone, because I had to keep going until someone answered and talked to me.  I really hated that but it set me up for success later.

Now …. there’s email and texting and probably other things I don’t know about.  And the cell phones can be so intrusive.  You never know, when you call, where the person you’re calling is, or what they might be in the middle of.  I try not to answer if I can’t talk right then, though I’ll check a message from someone in the program to see if they need help.

Oy.  It was an excellent exercise, and really, for me, a test of what lengths I would go to.

September 9, 2011 (this day)

This day was pretty awful.  Bad, very bad stuff at work.  Then I went to try to buy shoes.  There are no shoes in my size.  They don’t exist!  Apparently every girl goes from the size below me to the size above me without stopping in between, at a size 5.  I’m serious.  The stores just don’t have them.

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 26th birthday.  I sent her a gift certificate for shoes!  She inherited by lack of height but not my tiny feet.  Lucky for her.

Luckier for her, I have not ingested any alcohol since before she was born.  She has never been endangered by my drinking.

When We Developed Still More (Step Twelve continued)

When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself.  We found that dependence upon His perfect justice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing else would.  If we really depended upon God, we couldn’t very well play God to our fellows nor would we feel the urge wholly to rely on human protection and care.  These were new attitudes that finally brought many of us an inner strength and peace that could not be deeply shaken by the shortcomings of others or by any calamity not of our own making.

Mostly, for me, yes.  The thing is, I don’t know if the emotional stability I’ve gained over the years (such as it is) is due to my depending on God, my aging, my realizing that there is a big force for chance in the universe, my increased ability to decide what I will spend mental energy on, my increased ability to ask for help and seek to change my mind — it is all of these things, I’m sure.

I was at a meeting last night where we read and discussed Step Ten.  Emotions, as mentioned in this passage, bring to my mind the excess of negative emotions written about in Step Ten.  It is the excess of negative emotion that causes me pain and that motivates me to seek a change.

Here, to tie it in, I’m told that emotional stability (serenity) will result when I depend on God.

I can do that, sometimes.  Often?  But mostly I end up with a vague, maybe hopeful, maybe cynical, “Maybe God has a reason?” kind of thought.

Perfect justice, forgiveness and love.  About this I really do not know.  Reading this now, and writing this now, I realize that I don’t spend tons of time thinking about it.  I just can’t believe in these things for this life because we know that truly innocent people suffer so.  I can allow that maybe there is a bigger plan, a greater reality that I can’t see during this lifetime or maybe ever.  But I don’t know.

And mostly I don’t need to know.  The truism for me is that I can’t control most of what happens to me and around me, but I can work on controlling my thoughts and reactions in response to my reality.

It helps me not try to be in control.  I’ve had a situation at work that’s gone on for a week and that’s bad in many ways.  My opinion has been asked for and I’ve given it.  It’s required thought and nothing about it is easy.  My opinion has been asked for and taken into consideration.  I can see that some other ways to think about this have been, “Why do they ask, they disregard it anyway?” and, paradoxically, “Why are they making me decide what to do?”  I’ve been mostly able  not to buy into those, to know that those who ask for my opinion value it, at least a little bit, and take it into consideration.  They also have greater decision-making authority than I do, the same way I have to decide some things for those under me.  In this particular situation I’ve been called to act, which I think I did the best I could, and to give an opinion on a matter that’s not clear and not easy.

But at the end of it, for me, I still don’t know if human-merely-beings (to quote e. e. cummings) have decided this outcome, or if God is working through us, or if God is with us all in the fall out and aftermath.  Or not.

All-TIME 100 Best Non-Fiction Books

Time Magazine ranked the Big Book as one of the most important non-fiction books written in English since 1923.  Not only has it helped countless alcoholics recover, but the principles laid out in the book have been adapted for countless other programs.

It is arguably the most important book in my life.  I’d only argue that maybe, maybe, the books that inspired it were more important.

My personal Big Book facts:  I own four copies, I’ve had more.  My ex wrote his name in my only surviving copy of the Third Edition.  The Fourth Edition came out when I had 16 years sober.  Carole wrote her name in one of my Fourth Editions.  She then gifted me with a large print version.  Thanks, honey!