July 29, 2012 (this day)

Last night at our meeting a young lady celebrated one year of sobriety, at the age of 23.  As a recap, I got sober (finally) four weeks before my 22nd birthday.  It is beyond wonderful to see someone succeed at that age.  She chose, for a topic, “yets.”  I hope that the profoundness I feel about her choice really resides within her.  For her to acknowledge that every bad thing she’s ever heard of waits for her, if she drinks, if she’s lucky, will be a key to life-long sobriety.  Amazing.

Carole is traveling with our daughter, Erika, which is in itself amazing.  A gift of sobriety.  I’m going to attempt to walk the dog on my own, and go to a meeting, full of gratitude at right this minute.

Acceptance (finis)

Of the six days we had to potentially swim in the ocean, we were only able to make it in on three. The water was too rough the other days.  Traffic to and from our destination was pretty bad and driving was difficult.  I had a painful chest for part of it (menopause), and my back hurt frequently.  The young family we traveled with struggled over the behavior and misbehavior of their children.  Carole didn’t catch as many fish as she had hoped.  The heat and humidity were unbearable for one and half of our days there.  Our son didn’t stay with my mother back home, like he had agreed to do.

Acceptance is what makes us say, after that experience, that the vacation was absolutely wonderful.

In trying to summarize the way acceptance works for me in my life, I had the thought that acceptance has made me give up “magical” thinking, or at least to try and recognize it for what it is.

People in the program around here like to say, “I don’t have to like what I have to accept.”  True enough.  I accept terrible things and I don’t like them a bit.

But, and I’m sure I can’t write this out to express exactly what I mean, I’d like to take it a step further and actually like everything in my life, good and bad.  I had read that as an aspect of humility once, and I’m sure I could never actually get myself to where I’m that together that I can actually do it with any real success.  But I’d like to.

I can hear it sometimes in the people who don’t have a program, this constant dislike of some aspect of reality.  I’m grateful that even when I have that, I still know right away that I need to follow those thoughts with thoughts of gratitude, no matter where I have to go in order to find them.

July 21, 2012 (this day)

The SAND in my bathing suit is just a memory now.  I’m really grateful I can still be pummeled to that extent by the waves and live to tell about it.  And enjoy it.

I’ve been back to work and all of our visitors are gone.  The swelling from my ankles is almost gone.  I guess that sunburn made my ankles swell?  Menopause made other parts of me retain water and that is not gone.  Nor is the pain.  I cancelled my mammogram for next week because there is no way I could bear it right now.  As soon as this subsides I’ll reschedule.

Today is an average Saturday.  We took the dog to the wash-your-own-dog place and she’s already forgiven us.  We have our meeting tonight and in between …….

It’s a bit of a joke that, like the commercial, I don’t like fun.  Really lots of things that other people consider to be fun, I dislike.  Many things that Carole considers to be fun, I dislike.  But I offer as proof that I do actually like fun the fact that

the Sims ate my life.  And last night they even made their way into my dreams.

But Today, in Well-Matured A.A.’s (Step Twelve continued)

But today, in well-matured A.A.’s, these distorted drives have been restored to something like their true purpose and direction.  We no longer strive to dominate or rule those about us in order to gain self-importance.  We no longer seek fame and honor in order to be praised.

It humbles me, first of all, to consider myself a well-matured AA whose distorted drives may have – should have been restored to something like their true purpose and direction.  I know that time is only a number, that if I don’t drink today I’ve won, that everyone has their own time and pace and etc but really.  If, after 28 years of sobriety in the program, I’m not a well-matured AA, I should consider giving it up.

I never tried to dominate or rule in order to gain self-importance.  I don’t like being in charge, and I’d much rather follow orders and have it be your fault when it goes wrong.  There are a few things, however, about which I am very certain that I’m right, and it should be done my way.

I have some opinions at work, and mostly my problem there is that I am right, and I’m called to judge, assess, and lead others in the right direction.  It’s a responsibility I need to constantly take more seriously.  I need to do it more, and better, and not consider my own dislike of conflict so much when I direct others.  Oy.

At home, it’s more complicated.  There are a few things I feel right about and really can’t change my opinion, even if I don’t get my way.

But I think those things are few.  Seeking fame and honor – that has never been me.  I don’t like praise, it brings attention to me, and I don’t like attention.  My dislike of attention is more than it should be.  Thanks to AA, I know it is a kind of twisted “pride in reverse.”

Boy, “a well-matured AA” is quite a thing to think about.  Honestly, I don’t like the ‘progress not perfection” kind of cop-out I so often hear.  For me, personally, it is just as true that I can always, always, step it up a bit.


July 12, 2012 (this day)

At meetings on vacation, I never know if the people I’m listening to say the same thing every week.  I don’t know if they are full of it, or truly wise, or coming back or new or old.

I’m grateful to the people who keep these meetings going in seasonal, touristy places.

July 9, 2012 (this day)

I had to look up the date!

There is internet access, thank goodness.  I was ready to do without but not happy about it.

The awful weather broke here and back home, thank goodness.  Today was a perfect day for me to be on the beach.  It was cloudy, so no sun.  The waves were awesome and the friends we’re traveling with and their kids joined me in the water.  I stayed in until my fingers shriveled up.  Very, very nice.

Carole and I sponsor this couple – me, her and she, him.  The plan is to go to a 7:30 meeting tomorrow morning.  Groan.  We’ll see how that goes.  We’re in a very vacationy spot.  I don’t think many people actually live here.  We went to a meeting here last year and one of the regulars was talking about the stress of having tourists come and go.  It must be strange.

Anyway, extremely much to be grateful for, including, of course, the internet.

July 6, 2012 (this day)

Hot heat, and I’m packing to go away.  I really don’t like to go away.  But away I will go.  My mother and son are staying with the dog, so I can’t ask for more than that.

I’ll go to a meeting while I’m away.  I’ll be with one sponsee, and I’ll tell the other to call me.  Part of what I don’t like about being away is being out of touch, but cell phones should take care of that.  We’re staying somewhere with no internet, though, which really kind of stuns me.  So I’ll be out of touch in that way.  I know it’s good for me, but I don’t like it.

There’s so much to be grateful for.  The end of the heat wave, which isn’t here yet but is promised soon.  My mother and kids staying with the pets.  The ability to go away and swim!  I grew up around water and I miss it.  A wife I want to go away with.  Pets and a job to come home to.  Books and swimming and Sims (OMG).

Are we there yet?

Pride and Self-Consciousness (as a character defect)

This came crashing home for me as I prepared myself to go to my co-worker’s visitation.  She had died, and was cremated, and there was a two-hour time when people were invited to the funeral home.  I would usually refer to this as a “viewing,” but there was no body to view.  All of sudden that’s become much more common where I live – a cremation and a service.  I think the last three I went to had no body, just an urn.

It was Saturday afternoon and Carole was away.  Usually, if my work partner isn’t going with me to these things, Carole will go with me.  Not usually, always.  I really hate going no matter who has died.  A few years ago, my work partner and I went to the viewing of the body of the husband of one of our co-workers.  It felt really wrong to me, somehow intimate and like I was intruding.

But in this case, on Saturday, I did know the deceased and I did want to show up at least to add to the number of people who cared enough to show up.  But getting ready, going alone, I was very very anxious.  There were other reasons for me to be anxious (Carole gone, the heat, having to leave the dog) but I was very anxious about going, being there alone, what to wear . . . What to wear!  Who cares!

I didn’t know Gina’s (let’s call her Gina) family, and my co-workers and I had been mourning and grieving at work and we will continue to.  As a manager of sorts, I wanted the people I work with, who mostly work under me, to know that I cared enough to attend.  I did care enough to attend.  But I didn’t want to actually be there.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I didn’t want to be there stupidly not talking to anyone.  Arg.

What I ended up doing was going in, signing the book so that others would see I had been there, and leaving.  Just writing about it now, I can feel how self-conscious I felt and I can cringe again.  And that’s just one recent example, and an upsetting one at that.

I have a dress that I want to wear to work tomorrow.  But I’m not going to, because I hate it when people comment on how I look, and wearing a dress will make at least one person say I look nice (even if I know that I don’t, I just look different, but some people perceive dress=nice).  I hate to get my hair cut because people will comment.  I’ve been at the same work place for 14 years, and I know who will comment or ask if my shoes are new.

Seriously.  I cannot identify in the least with the people who make these nice comments.  I just wouldn’t ask someone about her shoes unless they were ruby slippers or something.

I hate to have that attention drawn to me.

It was so uncomfortable Saturday and I began to mentally search for a way out.  An excess of negative emotion makes me eventually, hopefully, turn to the tenth step, and try to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

This self-consciousness is all about me.  Worse, it’s all about what other people are thinking of or about me.  Which I will never, ever, actually know.  And to add craziness to my craziness, I dislike it just as much when I think that people are thinking good things about me.  Please don’t like my shoes!

So, pride, and the AA concept of pride in reverse.  I won’t be moving on from this one for a while.

July 1, 2012 (this day)

I’ve had a rough week.  It began with the period that wouldn’t end, which was, for a change, heavy and crampy as well as unwelcome.  On Tuesday, we lost one of our cats for several hours.  Carole had the carpets cleaned and went out, and when I came home, Thatcher (named for Ebby), the extremely fluffy black one, could not be found.  We searched the house then started searching the neighborhood.  In around four hours we must have spent close to $200 – registering his microchip (who knew you need to register them?  We know now), putting an ad in the newspaper, buying fluorescent poster board and a trap.  We tried searching the neighborhood.  I cried a lot.  I’ve had terrible things happen to pets and I’ve had pets die young and tragically.  This was somehow worse.  I would picture him out there frightened and hungry, and I knew that quickly his fur would become matted and he’d bleed and it would be awful.  And his twin sister cat here would be a constant reminder that she had once been a twin.  We’ve only had this cat for a year, and he is very sweet but I think I over-reacted, even to myself.  I’ll blame hormones on a rampage for making me extra weepy.

As that situation was going on, I got a text from someone at work saying someone else we work with was in hospice and not expected to make it through the night.  I worked with this woman every day for four years.  For the past year she’s been battling lung cancer and I’ve seen her a few times and kept in touch on Facebook.  I wasn’t great friends with her.  If she had left work, or if I had left, I probably wouldn’t have kept in touch beyond Facebook.  But she truly was someone I admired at work, and when we talked about promoting someone, she was my number one choice, despite some wackiness.  She really really cared about the clients (adults who have developmental disabilities) and her pets, and homeless pets, and she donated much time and effort to cancer charities before she got her diagnoses.

The cat showed up from I don’t know where.  He was in the house all along.  The next day, Carole left on a trip.  That day, my co-worker died.  Everyone at work was very, very sad, and we had to talk about what to do to honor her and what the arrangements would be.  The next morning, the missing kitty was panting, and that frightened me.  I considered that part of his hiding could have been that he’s sick or in pain.  I’ve had a cat do that before.  I had to go to work because my work partner was getting blood work.  She was also leaving early Thursday, and Friday, and I had to work late even though Carole wasn’t home to look after the critters.

And all this in tremendous heat.  I cannot take the heat.  Our house is over 106 years old (it was here in 1906, and that’s all I know about that) and we do not have air conditioning.  The weather is usually mild and daily I can see that the average high temperature is ten or fifteen or twenty degrees cooler than it actually is.  We had the highest low temperature ever in June.  I didn’t even cool off at night.  Carole had put one air conditioner in the living room window and a curtain across the kitchen doorway and I know I live in some kind of crazy denial that this year, the temps will be average and it won’t get so God-awful hot.

I truly can’t take the heat.  Extreme cold is easier for me to handle because in the cold, I don’t feel like I’m going to die, and I can use the whole house.  Part of my difficulty with this heat situation is that I can’t walk the dog or even take her outside for a change of scene for very long before she’s panting.  So we’ve been living in the living room and it could be much much much much much much worse.  But it’s been difficult.

I went to the visitation for my co-worker Saturday and that was difficult in several ways.  I’m going to come back and think about self-consciousness as a form of pride and a for-certain character defect that I have to an unhealthy degree.

The period is over, the cat is safe, the co-worker is gone, the living room is cool.  The heat continues and my mother gets here in a few days and I’m not sure we’ll all fit comfortably in the living room, especially after the kids and Erika’s cats get here as well.  The cats, it turns out, are the only ones who like it.  They stay upstairs and bake voluntarily and shed fur I can’t clean because it’s too hot up there.