August 30, 2012 (this day)

Erika is here visiting because she’s going to the wedding of a high school friend.  Today she went to school with Carole – she attended the college where Carole teaches.  It’s hot again but not unbearably so.  I went to a Tradition Eight meeting last night and I love the line that goes something like – alcoholics will simply not listen to someone who is paid to carry the message of the 12th Step!  Indeed.

And many alcoholics won’t listen to someone who isn’t paid, who is a member of AA, and who sees the train wreck ahead.

I am so incredibly fortunate to be sober, to have gotten it before it got me.

Still More Wonderful (Step Twelve continued)

Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy.  Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be.

There follows a whole long list of rewards, and I’d like to take them one or two at a time.  So I’ll do that.  My old saw about the above is that I don’t like to be specially anything, I’m a hide under the heap kind of person.

Today, at work, I sat for three hours with four other people and made plans for the future of our program.  I disagreed with the majority twice.  Once, they went my way, and once, they didn’t.

I was very happy to be getting along with them, not trying to dominate or push my view hard.  There are things at work that I feel passionate about (like wearing name tags, for example) but the issues we discussed were important but not vitally so.  It really felt nice to just sit there and work it out with them.  And I really, really hope that they came away from it feeling that I am OK to work with, if they thought about it at all, which they probably didn’t, because it just went well.

August 24, 2012 (this day)

I love it when old buildings are preserved and reused.  I like to imagine when some of these places were built new, by people having or expecting big families.  I’ve read book written by people who grew up in them and I’ve learned things like back then, they really huddled around those four chimneys for heat.  In summer they sweltered in all their big clothing.

And, since this is an AA blog, they suffered and died from their alcoholism in a way that I am not and will not.  I’m so fortunate to be here, now.

I took off from work today and Carole and I tried to tour a modern ruin, part of the main industry of these parts for the first half of the last century.  There weren’t enough people for the tour we wanted, so we’ll go tomorrow instead.  Tomorrow night our meeting celebrates the second anniversary of a member.  This particular guy has gone from not smiling at all, ever, so smiling once every few weeks.  Progress!

We went shopping and to lunch.  We’ll watch a movie and go to bed.  This is my fascinating life today and I’m nothing but grateful, today.

Act As If

Knowing that I wanted to write about this soon, I’ve been considering it in different contexts.  The first context that jumps to my mind is that advice given to newcomers to “act as if . . .”  There’s a whole world of acting to be done then.  Act as if you believed in a higher power.  Act as if you liked meetings.  Act as if you were a responsible citizen/neighbor/parent/spouse.  Fake it till you make it.  Bring the body and the mind will follow.

It is the truth for me that I can’t only think myself into right acting.  I also, and mostly, have to act myself into right thinking.  If I waited until I wanted to and/or felt ready to get sober/lead a meeting/eat right/do my job well/be a good pet parent, I’d still be waiting.  By acting as if I am those things, it pushes me along the road to becoming them.  Just like smiling or laughing makes me happy.

I’m thinking about where I still need to improve my actions today.  There are many places.  I took Carole to the eye doctor today to have a hole in her retina lasered closed.  Really.  And while I was in the waiting room, I took this picture of the TV.  That is Pat Robertson.  That made me mad.

Politics is something I feel so strongly about.  It is very, very difficult for me to “love” someone with opposing views.  I am selfish and greedy and I want to get married, damn it!  I have only one hope for that and Pat Robertson is firmly against it.  Against letting me do it.  How does it hurt him?  How?

Beyond the selfish greedy part of my politics, I believe strongly that our best chance for protecting the environment, taking care of the poor and disabled, those types of things, lies with the Democrats.  Like I said, it is very difficult for me to feel positive about someone who disagrees, but I come closest to that positive feeling in AA, about fellow members of AA.

Closer, but no cigar.  I know this is a defect of mine, and I know that I want to have it removed before (and without) it causes me deep pain.  It actually hurts my feelings that some people don’t want to let me get married, and the fault for my hurt feelings is all mine.

I can picture the truly loving, always forgiving person I would like to be and that I should be.  She is not triggered by Pat Robertson in the waiting room.  Which brings to mind an interesting dilemma.  I was completely alone in that waiting room, and I didn’t express my dislike to a single person.  I thought, briefly, of asking someone to change the channel.  I thought they should not play this propaganda in the waiting room, it might actually influence some people who are not as hard-core about their opinions and beliefs as I am.  OK, who are not as smart about their opinions and beliefs as I am.  But when a character defect is activated in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

It makes a mark on my soul, and even in complete isolation I need to keep trying to get over these things, to be more patience and loving and kind and tolerant than I am.  To see the other side more and to see the goodness in the other side, more.  Acting as if I am already that person is one tool that will move me farther in that direction (because really, I don’t expect I will ever arrive).

August 20, 2012 (this day)

We are visiting Erika for just a day or two before school starts for her and for Carole.  We’re looking at the lake where she samples water for her thesis.  She and Carole are sleeping behind me while I write this.  The lake is beautiful.  To look at her, it’s hard for me to comprehend that I once held this water scientist within me.

She told us yesterday that she thinks she’ll have to go longer than the three years she was hoping for.  That come the spring, they probably won’t have a teaching position for her like they have until now so then no tuition waver and, more frightening than that, no health insurance.  I can’t help it, my mind goes to politics and it really seems to me like one side doesn’t care about that, and that the other side does.  Not to mention that one side will do more to protect this water than the other.  It’s an election year.  I’m so blessed to have witnessed what I have, and to have taken part in what I did.

And to have this daughter, and this wife, and this time away from work to do what I’m doing.  My alcoholism hasn’t endangered my daughter (yet) and from that miracle have come many others.

August 16, 2012 (this day)

I’m busy at work because my work partner and I are sort of alternating time off.  When she’s not at work, I have to be, plus I have to do more without her present.  Then I’m taking time off to visit Erika with Carole, then we’re going to tour a modern ruin, so I can’t work that day either.  It is truly a blessing to have these things to do and the means to do them.  It makes the reality that my on-going menopause will not quit a bit easier to live with.
Last night we went to a baseball game with I think 17 other people from the program.  No “beer here” there.  One of our young friends proposed to his girlfriend at the game with all of us there.  They met in sobriety and have been together for a few years.  They often have a difficult time of it but alcohol use does not been a factor for them.  It was wonderful, and again we are so fortunate to be a part of that.
Everything is good today.  I’m still looking for a little bit better balance because a few weeks into it, the Sims continue to eat my life.

Blame by Michelle Huneven (Literature as a Tool)

AA is a presence throughout the novel Blame, by Michelle Huneven.  It isn’t the star of the novel, and the novel doesn’t get very deep into the concepts of AA., but it gives a picture of a lifetime of AA that I don’t remember reading about elsewhere.

I enjoyed the story and the book enough to look forward to reading it.  I enjoyed the characters and the character development is good.  The character development as it relates to some of their experiences with AA over long periods of time is good.  Carole commented that one of the characters seems like some of the people we know in AA, and to me that’s  praise for the book.  I’ve come away from it thinking that it is a good book for anyone to read – people who have no involvement with AA as well as those who practice the program.

It doesn’t explain the program in-depth, which is probably a good thing for a fiction novel.  It does give a realistic view of how some key concepts, like a gratitude list, might work in real life.  Especially interesting to me is the portrayal of certain oldtimers, as well as a long-term couple in AA.

For pure enjoyment, there is a twist to the story, and I enjoyed it.  The book doesn’t grapple with the bigger meaning behind the twist, but it absolutely made me think deeply about the meaning of life.


August 7, 2012 (this day)

This is the first house Carole and I lived in together, years ago.  I see our old cat who is no longer with us on the porch.  That looks like just the right amount of snow.  Enough to be pretty but not so much that driving would be difficult.  I could use a little snow right now.  It’s still hot, hot, hot,  It’s been a very hot summer.

Yesterday Carole and I marked seven years since our ceremony in church.  Gay marriage is still not legal in our state.  Because we are not as legitimate a couple as some famous folks who get married briefly, again and again.  Don’t get me started.  I just hope I live long enough.  That becomes less likely every day.

I had a yucky day at work and two days from now I have to give my whole, long version story at an AA meeting.  Although the meeting is local,  it’s one of the very few I have never been to.  I hear it’s very hot and mostly male.  And while it’s a tremendous honor to be asked, and I would never say no, I will be relieved when it’s over.  Till then there’s not much else I can do besides deal with now.

When By Devoted Service (Step Twelve continued)

When by devoted service to family, friends, business, or community we attract widespread affection and are sometimes singled out for posts of greater responsibility and trust, we try to be humbly grateful and exert ourselves the more in a spirit of love and service.  True leadership, we find, depends upon able example and not upon vain displays of power or glory.

Now this is humbling.  I can’t say that widespread affection has ever been something I’ve had to deal with.  I have been given responsibility and trust at work, and what I’ll say about this now is that I’ll try to carry this sentiment, of exerting myself more in a spirit of love and service, into the actual workplace tomorrow and every day, one day at a time.  AA continues to inspire me and to make me a better person.