(We) Agnostics

I’m just home from a meeting where the topic was “God’s will.”  It is the third step of AA that we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.  It is the eleventh step of AA that we pray for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

These are not easy concepts to grasp.  I know my understanding has changed through the years drastically.  I came to AA pretty much atheist, and it wasn’t good news to me that only a higher power was going to save me from my fatal condition.

But that was a long time ago.  Thankfully, immediately, I was able to understand the concept that the people and the program of AA were a power greater than I was, and I could go along.  Sort of.  But that’s another story.

Now to me, mostly, “God’s will” can be found by following the steps, still.  I think they contain the wisdom of the ages, and since I’ve been practicing them with varied success, but enough to stay sober for quite some time, they are the form I will stick with.  I still don’t think God is in the details.  I don’t think God cares what shoes I wear or what job I do.  I don’t think God chooses, moment by moment, who lives, who suffers, who dies, or who gets sober.  That’s not my understanding.

I’m pretty much comfortable with not knowing.  Every day we can easily see people who spout all kinds of hate and even physical harm in the name of God’s will.  If they are right, and I am wrong . . . I don’t know.  I guess the last laugh will be on me when I’m thrust down into eternal fire for being gay.

The not knowing, the agnostic aspect of it, is still with me.  I say it isn’t known and isn’t knowable.  I sit comfortably in AA by working the steps, having a guiding principle of kindness at least on a superficial level, and by sitting around church basements talking and listening about such things and trying to get deeper and better at it.

Pretty much, it is a wonderful life.

October 23, 2012 (this day)


This time last year Carole and I were visiting Erika.  This year she wanted us to come before school started.  I won’t see her until Thanksgiving.  If she wasn’t going to visit for Thanksgiving, I had devised very difficult plans to get us plus our son and my mother and our dog over to her for a visit.  I’m glad she’s coming here.

I hate politics.  I experience so many negative emotions every day as the election gets closer.  I hate it when I find out someone I like or love or care about doesn’t share my politics.  I come down to thinking that the person is just stupid.  But really, no one shares my politics.  I am left of liberal and it’s very often hard for me to tell the parties apart.  One of my favorite memories is when, after the election in 2000, I talked to my mother, and she said, “I hope you didn’t vote for Nader.  You’re in a swing state, you know.”

During the Bush years I thought it was just him that I couldn’t stand, and I would leave or change the channel rather than listen to him any time he came on.  But now I see that it’s really politics I can’t bear.  There were exciting moments for me watching Hillary and then Obama, and I certainly can bear to listen to him speak, but I really don’t want to listen.  I will be glad when this is over.  Meanwhile I fully realize that the character defects are all mine.

And on the topic of character defects, one of my big ones is sarcasm, cruelty, and meanness.  I can be very sarcastic.  I didn’t watch the debate last night but I saw some clips on the news this morning, and they said and I saw that Obama was being very sarcastic at times.  Is that OK because they are, in a sense, enemies and at war with each other?  Is this sarcasm somehow witty, or smart?
I wonder.

Troubles well accepted (Step Twelve continued)

. . . troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help . . .

I have a gratitude list and it is extensive.  More than one list, actually.  When I looked at this phrase I thought I would make a list of my troubles.  Sort of an anti-gratitude list, but not really.  I know that the ideal is to be grateful for everything, good and bad.  So the things that give me trouble are things to be grateful for as well.

From Dictionary.com:

difficulty, annoyance, or harassment
unfortunate or distressing position, circumstance, or occurrence; misfortune
So a list of my misfortunes, for which I am (or am trying to be) grateful.
  • I have a bad back and bad knees.  I will have them checked, if I live long enough.
  • I have a lot of trouble (ha!) sleeping.
  • I work with people who have severe, multiple disabilities, and their situations some times make me sad.
  • My mother is losing her eyesight.
  • I live in a polluted area.
  • I experience fear and difficulty while walking my dog.
  • I struggle with humility.
  • I can’t get legally married.
  • I’m having a very slow menopause (I know that’s an incorrect use of the word, but I like it).
  • I have a long and unpretty commute to work.
  • I have dental issues.
  • I (and in a separate matter, my kids) may be done out of an inheritance, or have to give it all to lawyers.
  • My dog barks too much.
  • My cat’s fur is too long.

October 15, 2012 (this day)

I had a very terrible morning in which I got tripped up by the same situation, the same character defects.  I was anticipating short staff later in the week.  Anticipating!!  I lost patience and it was not good.  I apologized to the victims of my frightened temper.  I need to do better in that situation, since it is definitely recurring in my life, often.

There is rigidity and fear of change.  I am afraid that the people who left my work place had some magic and that without it, we will fall apart to some extent.  I fear getting to know the new people who are working with us.  And mostly, as always, I fear not being able to protect and provide enough staff for the people at work.

And I do get sarcastic.  I let my work partner do most of the talking today for fear of what I might say.  That is progress but really not much.  I do not want to rest on the progress any longer.

Shyness comes into play with having to bond with the new people.  I also have to deal with some old people who I don’t really like and who don’t like me.  That is rough.  But again, I want to take another step away from that character defect.

I’m self-centered in thinking about myself, how I can’t provide for others.  My inability to provide impacts them also, but in this situation, on top of a staff shortage, they also have to deal with me and my lousy attitude.

Carole and I read The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond because it is something that they used to create the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In it Drummond writes about the Prodigal Son’s BROTHER, how his sulky, shitty attitude brought everyone down.  I coincidentally was searching for a prayer for patience and found one that tells me to ask God to help me hide my irritations and woes so that I may be the only one who suffers from them.

If I can’t escape being irritated, I do not need to show it.  A bad mood is contagious just like a good mood is.  It is an easy thing, most of the time, for me to summon a feeling of gratitude very quickly, almost without thinking.  That is the demeanor I need to put forward at work, even more so when something is actually wrong.



Death is swallowed in victory, and adversity is swallowed in hope.

At my meeting last night, the speaker chose the topic of “hope.”  He had told us his story of coming from no hope to a place of great hope.  I hear these stories every day in AA.  I am, admittedly, hugely biased but how can I not be, having experienced my own adversity, by drinking myself nearly to death before my 22nd birthday, and going on to live a really great life?

It was an unusual crowd at the meeting with some regulars and some visitors.  Some had come to hear the speaker and knew him from elsewhere.  I was called on near the end of the meeting and as usually happens to me when I know I’ll be near the end, I thought for a few minutes about what to say, then decided not to say anything.  It’s much easier for me to listen that way.  I struggle with thoughts of whether or not I “should” say something but really, I fall mostly on the side of any thoughts of “should” are evidence of my overly large ego.

So I listened for a while and then I began to think of what the people were saying in a different way.  Everyone, without exception, spoke of hope.  Newcomers were very hopeful or skeptically hopeful that they too could experience the miracle we had heard about.  I didn’t really know any of the newcomers.

The older folks, though  – I knew all of them at least just a little, and I knew enough to know that each had been through at least one, if not many, very, very difficult situations in sobriety.  They had been through

  • a terrible divorce
  • death of a child
  • loss of a business
  • obsessive thinking
  • disability
  • aggressive ex’s

Of the people I’ve known through the years in the rooms, there was a woman who struck and killed a child while drunk driving.  She was waiting to be sentenced to jail.  There was the woman who was drunk driving with her best friend, and the friend was killed.  I knew someone who died a painful, slow death from MS.

None of these people were happy with their situations, not one.  Some were devastated and some didn’t make it through.  But in the time I spent with them, each expressed hope, each helped someone else (at least me, of course, and many others).  Each of them, and countless others, gave me lessons in dealing with adversity that I hope I never get to use, but that I have nonetheless.

I always come away from thoughts like these feeling like I personally have not had very much adversity in my little life.  I really haven’t.  The biggest reason I have escaped so much of it is because I was beyond blessed to get sober so young.

October 10, 2012 (this day)

These were the babies a year ago, and they’ve had a good year.  They still love each other very much, and entertain each other, but they look so unalike that I wonder if the shelter lied when they told us they were litter mates so that we would take both.  The girl is bold and affectionate and “ridiculously playful,” as my daughter described her.  The boy is more skittish though affectionate in his own way.  Less playful than his sister and the fluffiest, most long-haired cat I have ever seen.  Keeping his coat is a part-time job.  I do not think cats should have such long coats, and he seems to agree with me.

One of the most difficult relationships of my life is over.  It was a work relationship, and it vexed me in many ways for a long, long time.  Honestly there were times I sort of fantasized about it being over, but being well-schooled in living in the day I religiously (and I use that word with thought) tried to make the best of it, day after day.  I didn’t expect it to ever be over much like I don’t expect my work place to ever move.  And I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to learn from it, and no doubt I did learn from it.  I’m still in shock.  It defined me in many ways because I was so often in opposition to it, leaning against it, suffering from it.  And the lesson I still struggle to learn is how the suffering was my choice.

Obligations Squarely Met (Step Twelve continued)

. . . obligations squarely met . . .

A list of my obligations, off the top of my head:

  • the care and feeding of one dog and three cats including food, shelter, vet visits, discipline, exercise, affection, stimulation, and cleaning up after, whether I’m the one doing it, or I’ve engaged someone else to
  • paying all the bills of living in suburban USA
  • working at the job I’ve agreed to do – what that entails could fills book
  • being a good neighbor
  • being a good sponsor
  • being a good mother
  • being a good daughter
  • being a good wife
  • being a good employee
  • being a good supervisor
  • being good to all of my clients
  • being a good co-worker
  • sharing the upkeep of the house
  • taking care of myself
  • taking care of the environment
  • being a good AA group member and treasurer
  • being a good home-owner
  • being a good example of some of the groups I can represent – gay person, woman, alcoholic, AA member, Democrat, developmental disability professional
  • taking the field of developmental disabilities forward, or at least not taking it back
  • being a good driver and commuter
  • being a good friend

I meet some of these obligations more squarely than others.  I will have to give this list some thought.

October 3, 2012 (this day)

Downstairs, Carole has the presidential debate on, and I hear the word “taxes” waft up toward me.  Who should pay, how much?  Today, for work, I visited a psychiatric hospital where a young man is locked in while our so-called “system” tries to find something to do with him.

I’m not watching the debate.  I know who I’m voting for, and I find listening to anything having to do with politics disturbing.  I am way left of liberal, and there really isn’t a party or candidate who reflects my values very well.  Still, I’m profoundly grateful for the past five years and that I lived to see this remarkable happening and even watched a small part of it up close.

I’m very political and I’ve long understood that it is a character defect having to do with pride, arrogance, tolerance, and probably a whole host of others.  I cannot like someone whose politics differ in any important way from mine.  OK, that’s an exaggeration.  I cannot bond on some profound level with someone whose politics differ from mine.  And I generally dislike those people.  I have had a few, few, very few close relationships with someone with differing politics.  It’s very hard for me.

The other day my work partner gave me an interesting angle on this to think about.  There’s someone we know who I mentioned that I “like.”  My work partner said, “You like her politics.”  I love her politics, and it made me wonder.  Can I actually like someone who I otherwise wouldn’t, just because I like her politics?  I know the reverse is true, but I wonder.

The other thing I’m wondering about is Nanowrimo.  I’ve done it twice, and won twice, and I’m very tempted to do it again, and I’m also tempted not to do it again.  The discipline of writing 50000 words in a month has been awesome, and in many ways fun.  I’m wondering now if I can write all year long, rather than doing that marathon.  I mean, I know I can do it, but I’m wondering if I’ll stick to it, and if I’ll miss the shared experience of Nanowrimo.

And I wonder why I do it at all.  I like to write, but nothing will really come of it except the time I spend doing it.  Hm.