February 26, 2013 (this day)

IMG_0035I had to do something special for work today, and Carole came and helped out.  We had to go to Carole’s church and help my clients get the church newsletter ready for mailing.  That made a short day for me, finally.  My work partner was on vacation for a week and then sick for a week.  She’s still sick, but she’s back to work.  And all during the time she was gone, we had short staff.  That is the hardest thing for me handle at work, and I had to do it for two weeks all alone.  I’m trying really hard to remember that these past two weeks have been fine, with lots of good stuff going on as well.  I feel like the experience was like heavy lifting, and now that the load is lighter, I can appreciate the light load more than I did before.

Our weather is dismal, and right now it’s very cold and raining hard.  Cold rain is one of the worst kinds of weather, I think.  I’m  just hoping it doesn’t get so cold that the rain freezes, because freezing rain and ice is awful to drive on.  I’m glad I’m in for the night, but so many people I care about are not.

But.  Even as I was writing this, I was receiving messages from work about the short staff situation.  I really need a new way to look at it.  It is a permanent feature of my life while I work at the job that I have.  It stresses me so much that I mentally toy with the idea of changing jobs to something that doesn’t deal with managing people.

There was a twitter thing I read about (I don’t have twitter) where people described their “real” job in a few words.  Lots of people wrote something about “problem solver.”  And I certainly am that.  People bring me their problems all day long and for a day or two I actually tried to embrace the role of problem solver.  It’s not really what I want, but it is what I am.  So I want to be a good one, and that would involve being calmer about it internally in my mixed up crazy mind.

But for tonight there is cold rain outside and I am in.

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–these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions . . . ” (Step Twelve continued)

–these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes.

And, for me–and, I kid you not–no amount of “slight buzz,” the type of which I chased relentlessly almost literally to the gates of hell and the jaws of the death.  The actual gate, and real jaws.

The exact satisfactions came earlier in this paragraph and the previous paragraph.  I’m no longer (not that “I” was ever doing these exact things, though surely I did my own version of all of them and still do to a lesser degree)

  • striving to dominate or rule
  • trying to gain self-importance
  • seeking fame, honor and praise

I am now

  • understanding that leadership depends on love, service, and able example
  • gladly rendering service
  • squarely meeting obligations

It continues on.

I’ve recently talked to two women, one who is new to the program and one who has struggled.  The new one is on work release from jail, because one of the few things she has left is her job.  The struggling one hasn’t yet lost her job.  The new one is about ten months sober.  The struggling one stops drinking for several weeks at a time, then drinks again.  Both are over 40.

I just leave these encounters with such a feeling of gratitude that I got so sick so quickly.  The work release one is optimistic.  She’s been forced into trying a life of sobriety and, as difficult as her situation is, I can whole-heartedly assure her that she is on the right path, that things were bound to get worse for her the way she was going, but that now, though it’s very difficult, things will get better.  I’m just about as sure that things will get worse for the struggling one.

The choice between a drunken-stuporous life and a spiritual existence seems so silly now.  Of course I would choose this path.  If only the other way lead to the drugged semi-consciousness I craved.  It didn’t.   It’s not like I even ever had an actual choice.

February 16, 2013 (this day)

IMG_0039

I take a lot of pictures of my animals.  This one is of my dog being very cozy on a cold winter night.

Because it’s winter, and it’s cold, and it’s cozy!  I had a hectic week at work.  My work partner was away on vacation, and now she’s come back, sick.  I’ve had periodontal surgery, and we’re looking to have our 106+ year old bathroom redone before it breaks apart unalterably.  It has lasted amazingly well, but its time is over.  I wonder if all the people who have lived here and used that bathroom over the years could have imagined us.  I’m sure they could not.

I’m trying to clean my room, catch up on my work, stay warm and one day soon, brush my teeth!  I have stitches and it’s just, well, yuck.

Anonymity

I came out about my recovery status to someone at work last week.  I’ve worked at the same place for almost 15 years, and during that time I think I’ve told four people that I’m an alcoholic, though I may be forgetting someone.  I told a woman I worked with (let’s call her Victoria) because she threw AA lingo around.  Turns out she had been sober for some time.  Now I’m not remembering exactly, but I think she had recently drank and said she wanted to get back into AA.  Carole and I went to a few meetings with her, but she lived really far away from us.  Later someone mentioned that Victoria was drinking at a work function.  Victoria left the job, and people I know still know people who know her.  I don’t know if she’s sober or drinking, but I guess she hasn’t had any major smash-ups, at least not big enough to come to my attention.

I told another woman, let’s call her Olga.  I don’t remember how or why I told her.  I worked with her for years, and she went to school to become a pastor, and she went to school for something else I don’t remember.  Olga is a funny kind of out-of-sight-out-of-mind person.  Carole and I and Irene, my work partner, to name three, tried to stay in touch with Olga, but she just didn’t respond.  She left my work place and came back to another division.  We would see her occasionally when she came to our location for training, and she’d be friendly enough, then nothing.  Eventually Carole and Irene gave up trying to keep in touch with her, and they don’t give up on anybody.

A guy I worked with, let’s call him Stellan, showed up at a meeting.  He was a really nice guy.  While we worked together many of us thought he was smoking pot, at least.  After he wasn’t working with us anymore, his name showed up in the paper when he was drunk driving and fled from the police.  They threw down those tire shredders to stop him.  He came to my meeting, since he lives nearby.  I gave him a big book and all the encouragement I could and that’s the last I’ve seen or heard of him for some years now.

Then Irene.  I think I wrote about that kerfluffal, but I never wanted to hide it from her, but I ended up hiding it from her, and finally told her about it quite recently.  Thank goodness.

Now someone at work got in trouble with drinking.  I won’t got into it, since it’s current, but it was bad enough for her bosses to need to know, and so I told her.  This is what I think about that:

  • It feels kind of ridiculous to tell someone that I have 28 years.  I’d give a dollar to know what that sounds like to someone who is new.  I imagine it sounds like I’m revealing I’m from Mars.
  • I realize that all that thought into what it sounds like is humility in reverse.
  • I hope she doesn’t tell anyone, but I don’t really care if she does.  Unless I could possibly help someone, then I’d be glad.

I’m “boss” to most of the people I work with day-to-day, so . . . I don’t know.  I imagine this one will turn out like the others and she will fade away.

I’ve gone through a few phases of wanting or not wanting to be anonymous.  At first, like a lot of us, I didn’t want to reveal to people that I had a drinking problem.  In my case they may not have known, because I was so young.  They may thought I was just crazy, a slacker, who knows what else.  Next, during most of the six years I spent trying to stop drinking, I didn’t want people to know because that would mean they would understand the implications when next they saw me drunk.  It’s that long phase that still haunts me a bit today.

Mostly, I think, I just haven’t cared about it.  Sure I’ve wanted to tell people, when I thought it could help, like those I’ve told at work through the years.  But I don’t think I’ve actually helped anyone that way.  And if I haven’t, it’s a wash.

Writing this and thinking about it I realize I’ve entered a new phase that is all about ME and the reverse of humility.  I think that telling someone I’ve been sober this long sounds ridiculous, unless of course that person has experienced some degree of success in AA.  Even then.  This is a confession, because I fully realize these feelings are wrong.

And finally I have to insert the note that is so often lacking from this topic in AA.  Principles before personalities – means that I should not lift myself up by being public about my AA status.  I can’t be public at the level of press, radio and films with my full name or face.  I need a certain degree of publicity in my private life in order to carry the message.

Feburary 5, 2013 (this day)

IMG_0023Since I last wrote about and worried about snow, it has pretty much snowed non stop.  If this is the biggest of my problems, I am very lucky indeed.

Carole and I went to a meeting the other night where we read from the Big Book, part of Working with Others.  The directions seem out-dated to me, about going to some man’s house (it was always a man), telling him your story, giving him a Big Book, coming back for another visit, seeing if he wants it.  It seems to me that these days people show up because of court, or a friend brings them, or their therapist suggests it.  We’re really lucky to be living in a time when alcoholism is much better known than it was when the book was written.  Today, no one person depends on me to carry the message.  There are hotlines and message boards and chat rooms and meetings.

On a different topic, my daughter in grad school is on an exciting trip related to school.  She called this afternoon to tell me she won first place in some kind of speaker’s competition that she hadn’t told us existed because she was too nervous to think about it.  I joked that all the Saturday mornings I got up before sun (and sometimes in the snow) to drive her to forensics tournaments paid off.  Then she told me she is too busy to talk to me but she’ll try to call me later in the week.  But really I’m amazed at how much my two kids can accomplish.  Much more than me.  It’s of course possible that they would have been themselves no matter what, but I believe that staying sober through their childhoods had a lot to do with their success today.

And their success is just for today, I don’t know about tomorrow, so I’ll take it.

. . . the surety that we need no longer be . . . (Step Twelve continued)

. . . the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things–

For me one of the greatest gifts of Alcoholics Anonymous has been the opportunity to know so many people on such a deep level.  I know that many people on the outside know it’s true that to some degree, most people feel they don’t belong or fit in, that there’s something different and usually wrong with them.  It can seem like other people hold a key to friendships and relationships, work and study, that I just don’t have.  Listening to thousands of stories in AA lets me know that this is a universal feeling, again to one degree or another.

Truly drinking I could not fit in any hole of any shape, and I believe now that I was actively working against God’s will by poisoning myself, wasting time and resources and generally being self-centered and destructive.

But of course sober I can feel that I’m still missing one or several vital ingredients in human nature.  Now, I know that it’s not true.

The people I work with can teach me humility every day that I will let them.  Some of them have very severe disabilities.  I can easily see their place in God’s scheme of things.  Or, for times when I can’t, like at times when I wonder why some people are born to suffer so, at least I can imagine that, because we’re all human, we’re all just a variation on each other.  Including me.