Anger

I charged off to the Big Book in search of this:

If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcohol­ics these things are poison.

Why did I need to find that?  Because some of the psychobabble that goes on at meetings about healthy anger, justifiable anger, anger that is OK for some people some of the time, makes me angry!

It really does.  Anger is one of the toughest character defects for me.  I don’t think I am, in general or often, an angry person, but I know I feel it probably many times every day.  I have not progressed enough with this.  Not at all.

Many of the top Google hits about anger reference AA and the literature.  The others deal with managing anger, mostly.  I’m glad my road is clear.  TO LIVE, I have to be free of anger.  Free.  Not managed, but gone.

So obviously I’m not free from anger and yet I have lived quite a long time.  In my opinion only, here’s a place where AA shows me the ideal and gives me many tools for working my way there.  I know I’ll never get there.  Personally I need to feel like I’m at least inching down that road most of the time making progress or . . . I don’t know.  It has to get better, or I’ll drink.  Still.

What makes me angry today?  My attitudes and outlook.  Outside wordly triggers:

  • Staffing issues.  I’m in charge of thirty of so people who very very often do not do their job to the best of their ability.
  • Conditions at work that are man-made (or woman-made, our leader being a woman) that seem, to me, to be wrong or difficult.  Our crappy building.  Being open in the big snow.  Lack of a coherent time-tracking system.  I could go on and on.
  • Being wronged.  Sometimes, often, other people I come into contact with, and so have to cooperate with, do the wrong thing and I get injured somehow.
  • Politics.  I can feel very, very angry over politics and that includes all politics, even that of my favorites.

Last week at my meeting we talked about forgiveness and acceptance, especially regarding people who have wronged us.  My most useful tool for that is the thought that the other people are also sick and often wrong.  Like me.  Just like me.

From the pages around the first quote:

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.  Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same toler­ ance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’’

It’s not quite that simple, when I’m at work listening to the voice mail of the people who are telling me that, unlike me, they won’t be coming to work that day.  And yet it is quite that simple.  I know it is wrong of me to judge them.  I know that if skipping work is not a character defect of mine, I have plenty of others, and I’m not in a position to weigh one defect against another and decide that theirs is worse than mine.  I have to deal with those people.  They have to deal with me.  And at least I know that I’m on the road of happy destiny.

(not sure where most of them are going)

December 20, 2012 (this (last ?) day)

I’m having trouble getting some time away from worry and sadness.  Probably several times a day – no, several times an hour – there is the news that is making the whole world sad.  It reminds me constantly that whatever I am going through, I’m lucky to have made it to this day and this issue.  The one young teacher was born two months after my daughter was born.  To me, this is not someone’s teacher as much as someone’s child.  I live in the suburb of a city and a quick search tells me that someone is murdered in that city once or twice a week, every week.  Of course it’s mostly young men.  But because they don’t look like or act like my young man, my son, I don’t do anything at all about it.  If all 50 or 60 were killed at one time, I guess I’d take better notice.  And being more liberal than you (whoever you are), I’m sure it is the fault of guns and our gun culture.
Then there are the holidays which are not like they were when I was a child.  I could go on an on but really, I’m disappointed with myself and I’d really like to climb out of the pit and into the world which is a really, really, really good place for me today. 
There’s been a huge change for the better at my work.  It’s so good that I’m afraid to believe in it, and maybe it won’t last, but it’s here for today.  The family is better than fine.
I’m in the doldrums of “shouldn’t” feel this way after this much time.  Though I reserve the right to plead insanity caused by hormones on the rampage.

. . . the proof that love freely given . . . (Step Twelve continued)

 . . . the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return . . .

I’m just wondering if there is a choice.  I mean it only makes sense that in order to receive love, you have to give it.  Maybe the fact that we are (most of us are) loved so much and so freely when we’re born and haven’t done anything to deserve it spoils us for the rest of our lives.

The love in AA is a special kind I certainly don’t see it anywhere else.  That we have to give it away to keep it is a fact, but it’s also a joy and I’m sure, for me, good practice for the rest of my life outside of AA.  People in AA (most of them) genuinely like to help newcomers and people who are struggling.  It is a corner-stone for the success of AA and I’m glad every time we applaud someone’s sobriety.  There were times when I couldn’t stop drinking that I was jealous of the success of others.  Aside from that I have always been glad and, as my years pile up higher, I’m more and more glad to be in the presence of people who have more time than me.

Monday, December 10, 2012 (this day)

IMG_4186I know I had something I wanted to write about from my meeting Saturday night, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  I can’t really think of anything at all.  It’s the usual busy time before the holidays, at home and at work.  Long-haired cats are freaks of nature and should not exist.  That’s all I’ve got, so I’ll look at some search terms that brought people here.

 

spiritual axiom that every time we am disturbed

That would be, every time I am disturbed.  Bummer!  There is something wrong with me!!  Usually, in my life, I’m disturbed by relatively little things.  I’m disturbed when the people I supervise don’t do what they should do.  I’m disturbed when I perceive I getting an unfair workload.  I’m disturbed when I think I don’t have enough free time.  I’m disturbed when I pay the periodontist.  Each and every time, there is something wrong with me.  I’m not accepting that everyone makes mistakes, that my workload is fair and I’m lucky to have it, that I have plenty of free time and my obligated time is usually spent in very agreeable ways, that I’m privileged and lucky to have the will and the means to go to and pay the periodontist.  And the way I understand it, even when the truly big and truly bad things come along, I am still to aim for serenity, and to try and achieve it.  Because such is life and the human condition.  And if I stay unserene for long enough, I’m in danger of drinking.  And for me, to drink would be to die.

how to replace alcohol

With life, and real, effective, grown up coping strategies!  Somewhere in the Big Book it says something like we had a hard time choosing between a life of alcoholic misery and a life lived on spiritual principles.  I did!  I refused to accept, for a long time, that my life with alcohol was always and forever miserable.  The good news is that a few decades down the road, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And now I’ve remembered what I wanted to write about.  It was during the meeting after the meeting that some people were talking about someone we know who recently went out with something like 12 years.  This person is, by report, drinking, sometimes one beer.  The people around the table said the usual things about how frightening that prospect is, how she probably won’t last for long doing that, how for us that would lead back to the alcoholic misery.

What I thought was that I would rather have what I have.  I would rather have the people around that table, the books and the meetings and this way of life, than one beer.  Much more than one beer.  I understand and I remember wanting that little buzz that took the edge off of everything.  I remember chasing it and that I was unsuccessful.  But truly, if today it was guaranteed to me (which it never would be, this is just for the sake of argument) I would not take that beer and give up the AA way of life.  I would not.

Making Difficult Amends

IMG_4183

Carole’s room last year looked down on a labyrinth that I never saw anyone walk or even go near.  In this (bad) picture, you can see Christmas lights.  I have no idea where those actually were.  And, honestly, when I look at pictures from that time one of my most frequent thoughts is “I hope I never need to have my knee replaced.”  In my defense, I had major knee surgeries when I was ten and eleven.  And really I just marvel at the fact that, 40 years later, those surgeries are still keeping me mobile.  If it was easy to do, I’d find out if the doctor is still alive and let him know about it.

Thankfully, because I stopped drinking young, I didn’t have many big or difficult amends to make.  What comes to mind is a situation with my father’s family.  I’ve probably written about it before but actually those relationships are still unresolved (though many of the key players have actually died).

I was a drunk dialer, and at some point (I don’t remember exactly when.  I think I can look up the Social Security Death Index and see exactly when) my father’s father, my grandfather, was dying.

I didn’t know him well at all.  My father died when I was six.  When I visited his family intermittently through the years, I would go visit my grandfather.  He lived in the same apartment building as my aunt and great-uncle.  They owned the building, which is a whole other can of worms and maybe relevant, but certainly long.  My grandfather wouldn’t leave his apartment after my grandmother died, 16 years before he died.  So for the last 16 years of his life, he left his apartment only to go to the hospital by ambulance, as far as I know.

My aunt let me know when he was dying, and I’m afraid I did some nutty drunk dialing around it.  I have only vague recollections.  The death index tells me I was 20 years old.  That was within my worst drunken times.

Anyway, he died, my life went on, and two years after he died, I got sober for what has been until now the last time.  In the ensuing weddings/baby showers/Christenings of my cousins, I got sober, and, as a newly, truly sober person, I went about making amends.  I knew that some of my cousins were mad at me.  I figured there had been talk about what a scene I made when my grandfather, who I really didn’t know very well, was dying, and how hard that was on the relatives who lived with him every day.  I sought out my aunts, since I know I talked to them during the melee, and apologized.

Well, I was forgiven.  How nice.  Turns out that they were made at me for something I said at my own wedding shower, WHEN I WAS SOBER.  I still don’t know what I said.  Some stupid remark that was taken the wrong way.  Isn’t that usually the case?  But you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I’m glad I apologized.  I’m sorry I hurt their feelings (I guess??), but yeah, the thing I thought I had done wasn’t even the thing I had done.  Live and learn.

December 1, 2012 (this day)

IMG_4178This time last year we were getting ready for Carole to have her new knee.  She might disagree, but I think the year with the knee has been a success.  This year we’re having a bit of a quiet but busy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Blessings still abound.

At the end of November, the Eleventh Tradition got a bit of attention at my local meetings.  I’ll say it here, since this is a blog, that I don’t understand why some AA bloggers put full-face photographs of themselves on their blogs.  Also, in general, I think people take the case of their own anonymity a bit too far.  Just my opinion.

Something interesting I have noticed and, despite my attendance at AA meetings far and wide, I can’t say that I ever paid attention, so I can only speak to here.  Some people give their last name at meeting, saying, “My name is Ebby Thacher, and I’m an alcoholic.”  (I’m picking on Ebby because my cat, Thatcher, is bothering me while I type.  And I’m disturbed to know that Ebby spelled it without the T)  Others only give their first name.

I’ve always only given my first name, I think because that’s the way that was dominant when I was getting sober.  It still is the dominant way.  But we were reading one of the AA “approved” books and someone expressed the opinion that we needed to give last names because we can’t be anonymous to each other.  Someone needing help can’t find us if they don’t know us.

Of course today, help is instantly available to anyone with a phone or computer.  But I wonder.  My last name is no secret at all, and anyone who cares to know it, does.  People from my meetings also know me pretty extensively outside the rooms due in a large part to Carole.  But I’ve never hidden from AA folks.

Someone at a meeting I was at on Thursday said that his sponsor told him that the rooms need both people who say their last name and people who don’t, because if everyone said their last name, some people at their first meeting would never come back.

I think I would be more inclined to say my last name if my first name was more common in the rooms.  I don’t know.  I’m eternally grateful that we think about and discuss these things and that AA has survived until now.