January 27, 2013 (this day)

IMG_0036I really try to make peace with the snow.  I love the snow!  It’s pretty, and fun, and so much nicer than a bleak bare winter landscape.  Where I live, we usually have lots of snow of a very nice type.  It often snows just slightly, gently, all day or all night.  It doesn’t mess with the roads but it keeps all the snow on the ground clean and renewed.  My dog loves the snow.  It energizes her and makes her happy.

But driving in it frightens me.  It always has.  Aside from a few years, I have always lived where there is snow in winter and hills as well.  It’s always frightened me and I can specifically remember sitting at meetings, watching the snow fall, talking about this because it surely is something I cannot change.  More than that, I don’t want to change it.  I’ve lived without snow and I vastly prefer the climate that includes snow in winter.

Most winters, even in my climate, I don’t have to drive in scary snow.  That’s just the way it works out.  Snow falls at night, on weekends, or not at all.  Last year we had practically no snow at all.  So I keep that fact uppermost in my mind when I consider and think of and fear the damn snow.

I do other things.  The day after Christmas, when I had to work and big snow was predicted all day long, I packed for work like I would stay there for a month.  I try pretty much at each and every snow to notice how the driving goes for others, since I’m hardly ever driving in it.  I keep in my mind like the details of a plane crash, the time that ice descended on my region all of a sudden and just about everyone crashed.

OK that’s not a good example.

Friday I had to drive in the snow.  I was getting out of somewhere I was visiting for work at just exactly the wrong moment.  I drove home and I slid and I got more scared than I’ve been for a few years, driving and slipping in the snow.

I don’t mind the cold weather.  I prefer it to heat.  The snow is very pretty and it usually gives me no problem, even for years at a time.  I would not change my location with regard to snow if I could.  The climate that gives us such frequent snow often hides the sun when it otherwise would be beating down, and that’s just fine with me.  My only real negative factor in this my drive to work, which although it is around 25 miles each way, those miles are into and out of a city of some size, and the roads between here and there are as well maintained as any.  And it’s relatively flat.

I didn’t mean to write about snow today.  I’m going to hit the publish button, and then I’m going to shop for a Jeep.

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Anniversaries

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

~e. e. cummings

 

I love anniversaries.  Other places I’ve lived, they’ve celebrated anniversaries, sometimes called birthdays, in AA.  Not where I live now.  The group Carole and I started celebrates anniversaries and this Saturday we’ll have three, which is I think the most we’ve had in one month.  A great success for our group.

Anniversaries are about success.  I understand that the success is only for today, and that’s why we celebrate after the actual day has taken place.  And tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone but I doubt that someone who is solidly sober in AA is going to go out because of an anniversary.  When I lived in places where they celebrate, the last week of the month could be success story after success story.  A happy week.

I like the e. e. cummings because, although I hadn’t physically died, I believe I was almost there and still going in that direction when I drank.  Seeing my ex’s death confirms confirms confirms.  It is suicide and it is slow and it is pitiful.  While I didn’t die I put myself and untold strangers in jeopardy of death.  I drove drunk and I put myself in dangerous situations and I passed out in a snow storm.

It’s January and it’s COLD in my part of the world.  It’s not green and blue and gay, but these things are around the bend and I’ll count myself lucky to live to see them.  I know many people struggle with the cold and dark, though I prefer the dark and while I don’t like cold, I’ll take it over heat every every every day.

I was lifted from the no of all nothing.  My anniversaries marked another journey around the sun since that happy day, the day my life began.  Saved and reborn, recovered and alive.  Anniversaries are proof that it works.

 

January 19, 2013 (this day)

I’ve been reading his girlfriend’s journal from 3rd through 6th grade.  She seems to me to be very smart, really delightful.  She records what she had for breakfast (Farina, Rice Crispies, toast).  She records what she wants to be when she grows up (a doctor, a palaeontologist). She records what she got for her 11th birthday, among other things a buzzer/beeper with green and red lights.  She wrote:  I LOVE IT!  She wrote:  I am so lucky!   She wrote that her father had a car accident while driving drunk, that he had his license suspended for 18 months, that she was scared.

And so it goes.

The Needle and the Damage Done (January 17 2013)

So he had COPD and emphysema from smoking cigarettes, and he was still smoking.  He had Hepatitis C from shooting heroin and was still shooting.  He had oxygen and a walker, false teeth and false hair, all at 60.  He had malnutrition, and his refrigerator had beer and Ensure.  He had prescriptions and pills and Methadone in the bathroom.  He had carpets that were black in huge areas from dropped cigarettes.  He had years of mail about his bills.  This was truly someone who took more than he gave.

He had Big Books and rehabs and several “recovery plans,” one of which Carole kept.  He had a girlfriend (years ago).  She kept journals and I just read her “recovery journal” from 1995.  She had the struggles that a lot of us have.  She met him toward the end of the journal.  She had relapses and she was grateful for second chances.  She died of a drug overdose a few years ago, at his place.

He had needles everywhere.  As we sifted through his “stuff” looking for what we might save for some reason, we opened boxes and boxes of used needles.  Wooden boxes and cardboard boxes.

He had several pictures of our kids, and things they had made in elementary school.  Now I admit I’m a bitter ex, but I can’t imagine what he thought about when he looked at those pictures every day, and especially on the days that he tried to legally give me as little as possible for them.  And on the days when he didn’t call them or see them.  Most days.  Almost every single day of his pitiful, miserable life.

The funeral guy complimented me on those kids.  Carole said it was something good that he did but you know what?  A dog can have a baby.  A worm can reproduce itself.

He had a band when he was young, four guys and a name referencing heroin use.  I guess that was cool.  He stayed in touch with one of the guys, his best friend, the best man at our wedding and the God father of our kids.  I looked his friend up, thinking he might want to know that his friend was gone, and I found that he had died in 1999, at around 49 years old.

If not for those kids, I don’t know who would have arranged the disposal of his body, and his stuff, and who would have inherited the part of his parents’ estate that he didn’t waste on illegal drugs and the medical care their use brought about.  I guess that happens every day.

For today, the legacy of those poor, dead losers has contributed to my ongoing sobriety, and I hope it has helped yours as well.

January 11, 2013 (this day)

My ex died last night.  He was 60.

I know that when we met, he had one year sober in AA, and I had no years sober.  I know that he quit smoking cigarettes shortly after our daughter was born in 1985.  I know that we all dodged a bullet when people he had shared needles with started dying from AIDS in 1985.

I know that while he was sober, he advanced in his career.  I know that at some point, being a store manager was the reason he gave for not attending local AA or NA meetings.  I know that he went back to cigarettes around 1990.

I know that some time after he left me and the kids, he stopped paying child support, and he tried to sue his company to get his job back after he was fired for using heroin on company property with another employee.

I know that several years ago his girlfriend died in their apartment from a drug overdose.

I know that he hadn’t worked and looked terrible for the longest time.  He had Hepatitis C from sharing needles and COPD from smoking.  He was in and out of the hospital and, when his parents died this past year, both in their 90s, he really couldn’t cope with the estate.  He was an only child, adopted, which is another story of addiction and failure.  I know he has lived off of his parents and the taxpayers for a long time.

My poor kids, and especially my son, is left do deal with all of this mess.  Carole and I will help as much as they want us to.

To me, right now, it is such a story of addiction and recovery.  I have thoughts about why certain people succeed and others fail, mostly because I failed for so long.  Being human I think about it, from time to time, what might have happened to me and my kids if I drank somewhere along the line in my story.

I know that I didn’t drink, and so I’m sitting here writing this, and he is not.  And if the phone rings and the kids call I will answer the phone and respond to what they say and I will remember what I say to them and it might even be something good,

” . . . the certainty that we are no longer isolated . . . ” (Step Twelve continued)

. . . the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons . . . “

 

From time to time, Carole and I discuss this.  Our experiences are certainly different, since I’ve spent my whole adult life sober in AA and she had lots of adult life on the ‘outside.’  Also because I’m an introvert and she’s an extrovert.

Last night at our meeting a young lady spoke who was born in 1982 (so, yeah, young).  I got sober in 1984, when she was 2.  She is living in my city but not from here.  She moved a great distance to live here and is looking at another big move in the near future.  She has a young child and is pregnant.

Lots of those details mirror mine, when I was a bit younger than her and with a bit more sober time, but lots of those details are the same.  She chose for a topic “one day at a time.”  It’s interesting for me to reflect on all the “one” days I’ve spent since I was sitting in her place, pregnant, sober, moving.

I can’t imagine how people who don’t have AA do it.  I see my daughter, who is a much much friendlier person than I am, but maybe not up to Carole’s degree of friendliness, make friends at the school she’s been at for almost three years.  Her friends come and go, and she makes new ones and keeps up with some of the old ones, but it isn’t nearly the same.

As I told the young lady last night, there are rooms of people who already love her and understand her, though they haven’t yet met her.  I know it’s very hard with little ones to get out and make connections and socialize pretty much at all, but she’s got the one resource that I think is better than all the others put together.

Isolated and alone is great way to describe the way I was before I came to AA.  I would say before I quit drinking, but I didn’t quit drinking.  I attended AA for six long years, drinking.  And at times that made me be isolated and alone, but the good folks of AA always reached out to me, always welcomed me, and always helped me out of a life-threatening jam when I asked them to.  I wasn’t alone, even though I was still in that prison, I had visitors.

OK these metaphors have gotten away from me.  The fellowship is one of the things I would choose not to give up, if I could by some miracle drink “normally.”  I don’t want to.