In the Years Since (Step Twelve continued)

In the years since, however, most of us have come to agree with those doctors.  We have had a much keener look at ourselves and those about us.  We have seen that we were prodded by unreasonable fears or anxieties into making a life business of winning fame, money, and what we thought was leadership.  So false pride became the reverse side of that ruinous coin marked “Fear.”  We simply had to be number one people to cover up our deep-lying inferiorities.  In fitful successes we boasted of greater feats to be done; in defeat we were bitter.  If we didn’t have much of any worldly success we became depressed and cowed.  Then people said we were of the “inferior” type.  But now we see ourselves as chips off the same old block.  At heart we had all been abnormally fearful.  It mattered little whether we had sat on the shore of life drinking ourselves into forgetfulness or had plunged in recklessly and willfully beyond our depth and ability.  The result was the same–all of us had nearly perished in a sea of alcohol.


Included for completeness, and because, if I continue for a few more years, I’ll have transcribed the entire book!

June 24, 2012 (this day)

I guess that last year at this time, Carole and I were traipsing around the river trails.  That is so not happening this weekend.  It’s being a very bad year for me so far, menopause wise.  Much worse than last year, which just isn’t fair.  It should get better, not worse.  So say I.

I’m grateful my body works as it should.  I’m grateful I don’t need surgery or medication.  I’m grateful that my life is set up so that I can deal with excessive bleeding, pretty much wherever I am, including at work and at meetings.  I’m grateful there’s a light at the end of this tunnel and that I know it will be over one day, and I’ll be lucky to live to see it through to the end.  I’m grateful my lady parts have worked so well to give me two pregnancies and two children, just exactly when I wanted them.  I’m grateful that I have this practice of gratitude and that it’s impossible for me to sink too deeply into the pit of the present symptoms that I sometimes feel I cannot bear.  I know that I can bear them.  I’m grateful that I realize that the future isn’t promised to me, that the future may well be very much worse than the present, that I should not waste away the present in feeling awful about this.

I’m grateful that I’ve undergone a profound personality change (in the words of As Bill Sees It #1).  I’m grateful that I know it is fragile and temporary, and that I have to take care of it or I will change back.

Fear in AA

The other thing that’s happening in my little corner is some fear.  This happens from time to time.  Sometimes, someone acts dangerously at an AA meeting.  I’ve seen this a few times.  I have generally felt safe in the midst of that because it’s always been just one person, with plenty of other people to react if there’s a problem.  It’s really rare, and I can count the times it’s happened to me on one hand out of many many meetings.

What’s going on now has happened a few times in my experience.  There is someone who is attending local meetings who people are afraid of.  This person has not acted dangerously, that I know about, but he has a past that frightens us.  This in the context of AA meetings where people regularly say they have been in prison and for a long time, and somehow they don’t cause fear.

It’s very important for me to point out that AA meetings are not “safe” places.  AA members are not “safe” people.  People must use common sense and protect themselves and especially their children.  Just like anywhere else, you can’t trust someone in AA until you’ve known them for a while.  You just can’t.

There is now the question of what to do about our fear and how to treat this person as gently as possible and as well as possible while still protecting ourselves and our children.  It’s difficult.

A few years ago someone was attending meetings and people were afraid because he acted generally aggressive in a vague way.  I can think of at least one local attender who gives some people a creepy feeling with not much else to go on than that.  And now this guy, with a definite past and a need on our part to share recovery with him while protecting ourselves.  I hope we end up doing what’s best for everyone concerned, while of course I really don’t know right now what that is.

Fear and Loathing in AA

Two things that have been going on in my little corner of AA.

First, the loathing.

I’ve been going to AA meetings since 1978 at a fairly steady pace.  I’ve lived at both sides and some places in the middle of the US and have attended AA in all the places I’ve lived.  I’ve been to a lot of meetings.  I can’t say that I’ve never, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve never, heard anything anti-gay before last Tuesday, when, apropos of nothing, the gentleman speaking at the discussion meeting I was at (which has been meeting since 1955, they say) said, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

I need to also say that I don’t “look” gay.  People would not automatically identify me as gay although here, where I live, I know that Carole is fairly well known (by at least one in ANY given four people – OK maybe that’s an exaggeration, and by four out of five random AA members) so I am pretty well “out.”  Just adding this here because I realize that people who are easily identifiable as gay have probably heard more anti-gay things than I have, although I hope and pray these things were not said in the context of an AA meeting.

I don’t know what the guy’s point was.  I hope it wasn’t to make people like me (or much much newer and more vulnerable than me) uncomfortable, so they would leave.  Because to cause me to leave AA would be to sentence me to death.  And gay, straight, whatever – he has no right to sentence me to death.

I added the part about all the meetings I’ve been to because I don’t remember this happening before, so obviously it is not prevalent in any way.  Obviously it is one man’s problem.  Before he spoke, a man who had recently moved to the area was saying how the folks of AA welcomed him and didn’t care that he’d done a decade in prison, among other bad things.  We don’t care.  He is welcomed.  I have no idea what he went to prison for and it might have been pretty bad.  The anti-gay comment in this context was actually bizarre.

After I told Carole not to leave, “Don’t let him chase you from an AA meeting,” she spoke and said how wrong the comment had been.  The guy tried to interrupt and the chair yelled at him that he had his turn.  After Carole, others spoke about being accepting, “the only requirement,” and how some of them had been judgmental but AA had helped them have that character defect removed, how “mixed” meetings of gay and straight people are “good” and fun and welcoming.  So maybe it was actually a good thing.

Later we were talking about “what’s my part?” in being upset with what he had said.  My mind goes right to gratitude.  I almost always fail to appreciate how accepting, welcoming, inclusive and wonderful the people of AA are.  Or, if they hold intolerant attitudes, they don’t feel comfortable or appropriate in expressing them.

I have some of those attitudes myself.  Here is another piece of “my part.”  I am intolerant of different things than that guy, but intolerant nonetheless.  It brings to mind a line from a Melissa Etheridge song – “Not so black and white, the color of my sin.”

And now this got really long so I’m going to leave the fear part for another day.  Today I will be pushing the gay agenda.  Getting the porch roof painted, walking the dog, practicing the guitar, cleaning the litter boxes, watering the flowers, and obtaining equal rights.

Acceptance 6.12.12 (or lack thereof)

I heard it again at a meeting the other night.  “Our literature tells us that we are to accept everything.”  It does not!  That is in one of the stories, one person’s perspective and experience.  Our literature (which was never presented or meant as gospel anyway) tells us to use the Serenity Prayer.  I am to accept the things I cannot change.  There is a whole world full of things I can change, that are unacceptable.

Number one unacceptable, changeable thing that I am most likely to succeed in changing and I need to work on changing the most:  myself and my attitudes.  But still.

June 8, 2012 (this day)

There are a few things on my mind.

One is that last Tuesday, Carole and I marked 15 years together.  It bites my butt that we cannot be legal.  How very unserene of me.  I’m really grateful that observant Jews don’t try to outlaw pork for us all.  Because, if you religion forbids gay marriage, for goodness sake, do not marry someone of your gender.  Ug.

One week before that, I turned 50.  I mostly like it, and I’m entirely grateful.  I have no doubt I would not have lived to see 25 had I kept drinking.  It’s all borrowed, extra, golden, undeserved time since I was 22.  It’s all because of AA.

Then yesterday, I went to the periodentist.  $2500 about to fix my teeth.  I wish I knew how much longer I’d need them for.  It could make a difference.

That’s really the only aspect of being 50 that I don’t like, the physical deterioration.  That, and of course, being closer to the end.  The obituaries always always always have many folks younger than me listed.

Acceptance 6.4.12

. . . unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

I do believe that this is true.  However, “life’s terms” include things that are wrong, that shouldn’t be, and that I should try to change.

There’s a popular saying around these parts that goes something like “just because I accept something that doesn’t mean that I like it.”  And that’s true, to a point.  I’m short, I accept it, and I don’t like it.

But I believe that I will be truly serene and almost completely evolved when I do actually like it, as well as accept it.

“Life’s terms” that I have to accept include, I believe, chance, and accidents, and pain and suffering for some who seem like they really don’t deserve it.  But dwelling on and failing to accept these things prevents me from being happy.

This all leads up to the second part of the quotation for me.  I do need to work to change things in the world, I do.  But mostly I have to work on changing myself and my attitudes.

What needs to be changed in me and my attitudes?  Well the change I needed to make to stop drinking was a drastic change, and a drastically needed change.  Changes in me are much smaller and much slower now, though it still goes on.

So when I’m having an excess of negative emotion, the place I look first, last, and longest, is at me and my attitudes.  No matter what the outside circumstance is, the change that promises me serenity and happiness is the change that takes place in my mind.

June 2, 2012 (this day)

Last year at this time I was in the Smoky Mountains, about to have a close encounter with a bear.  This year we’re going to Ocean City in July, and I’m a bit afraid of the heat.  It will be a mostly swimming vacation for me, weather permitting.  Swimming is really the only physical activity I ever do just for the enjoyment of it.  That, and maybe, under certain circumstances, walking.

Today the weather that I love is back, and we’ll be taking the dog to the park before the meeting tonight.  We’re such a busy lot that we’ll be celebrating my anniversary from back on May 1, along with the fourth anniversary of another member from the beginning of May –  a really bright spot in the group.  It was part of the concept when we started the group to celebrate anniversaries of members.  It’s not generally done in this area.  And I love it, except when it’s mine.  I’ll try to be brave.

The other night I went to a meeting and there were only three of us there.  The other women had 23 and 19 years, and I took the opportunity to talk to them about being an “oldtimer.”  It was a really good discussion, and part of me still longs to start and oldtimer meeting.  There is one once a year in this area, but I mean one that meets every frigging week and bellyaches about the challenges and celebrates the joys.

When I asked them what they feel they can’t do or say in a regular meeting that includes and is geared toward newcomers we came up with quite a list.  Oh well, for now I’ll be glad for the shared experience I got the other night, I’ll be glad that I’m not alone in these oldtimer feelings, and mostly be glad for the new people who come and who keep the fellowship alive and well for me as I age.