June 28, 2014 (this day)

I can’t believe that in November, 2008, I wrote 29 posts!  What else did I do?  I guess that was before I discovered the Sims.  And Facebook.

 

Last year, we did not buy new towels for our new bathroom.  We still haven’t.  IMG_0105Now we have a new kitchen to not buy new stuff for.

Last night we went to a wedding shower for someone in our home group.  She’s marrying someone in the program.  I really hope it works.  I’m sure the chances are much greater than if they were drinking.  Tonight we celebrate the 27th anniversary of a group member.  She moved from the same area I did to the same area I did, randomly.  Her presence and her accent comfort me.  And her long sobriety.  Before that we’re going to attempt to kayak for the fourth time.  We’re practicing on a small lake nearby and neither of us is very good at it, and both of us are out of shape and full of physical issues that make this difficult.  I don’t want to give up on it, although sometimes getting down the street is a challenge.

 

Upcoming are the visit from my mother, our trip to Canada, a trip south in the heat to see my daughter.  We’re going to go to the annual local AA amusement park thing  on July 4th because it falls on a Friday and I don’t have to work the next day.  I’ve never done it and probably won’t again, bit I’m more into experiencing these AA things at least once than I used to be.  Retirement (if I’m ever lucky enough) may find me at an AA gathering of more than 100 people one day.  Maybe.

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What Characteristics Does Your Higher Power Have?

From my Character Defects Page:

Betty

I am doing my second step : I am trying to figure out What charaterists my higher power does not have? If you please give feed back ? Thanks

I don’t understand your question. My higher power doesn’t have any character defects – my higher power is ideal. I, as a human being, have all character defects to one degree or another. Talk to the people in your meetings, and more will be revealed.

That is NOT what she asked. She asked about what CHARACTERISTICS her HP lacks or owns—sounds to me like she needs some help on how to determine what a Higher Power means to her. Got any pointers there? I’d love to know what advice you have too!

 

Now I doubt Betty is still reading.  The question was from over three years ago.  Anonymous probably isn’t still reading either, and I am sorry it takes me so long to approve and then answer questions.  Anyway . . .

Right after I read this question I went to a Big Book meeting and we read from page 53

When we became alcoholics . . . we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing.  God either is, or He isn’t.  What was our choice to be?

Last night at my meeting, someone asked for the topic to be “fake it till you make it.”  Many people shared on their experiences faking a faith in a higher power until they actually developed one.  One common suggestion I’ve heard given to people who are having a hard time conceiving of God is to make a list of all the qualities you would want God to have, and let that serve as your description for now until your understanding grows and your description of God changes.

AA does not, to my knowledge, answer the age old human questions about God and why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  It doesn’t even answer the question about why some of us get to sit at AA meetings and wonder these things while other people suffer and die, never having heard of AA or unable to “get” it.  Many people in AA find answers to their questions about God in a religion.  It’s my personal opinion that the crucial part of all this is the belief in a higher power, be it human or divine.

I was blessed in my early belief that the people and the program of AA had a solution to my problem, if only I could grasp it.  That was enough of a higher power to get me started.  The description of the higher power is left wonderfully vague and in that way practically anyone can find it.

Why All This Insistence – Hitting Bottom (Step One continued)

Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom
first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to
practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom.
For practicing A.A.’s remaining eleven Steps means the
adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic
who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to
be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess
his faults to another and make restitution for harm done?
Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone
meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy
in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No,
the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t
care for this prospect—unless he has to do these things in
order to stay alive himself.
That’s how it was for me.  I did many of the things that AA told me to do when I first darkened its doors, but I didn’t work a step.  Now I see people time and time and time again begin and fade away because they haven’t hit bottom.  Bad things have happened to them, but nothing bad enough, not yet.
The simple program, and the simple beginning of “don’t drink and go to meetings” does turn out to be a very – not complicated, but extensive – way to live life.  For me I truly believe I wouldn’t have lived much longer if I hadn’t stopped drinking, and I had to know that in order to make a true beginning on adopting those new attitudes and actions.  So finally self-centeredness and a will to live that is maybe just a tiny bit bigger than the will to die saved my day.  Every day in AA we sadly watch people who haven’t suffered enough to work the program suffer more, and hope they get it before it gets them.

June 13, 2014 (this day)

I’m the manager on duty at work, and so that is always hectic – lots to do followed by waiting for something to do.  I don’t get periods of uninterrupted time when I can do the paperwork that is constant.
We’re settling into summer at work, and it is my work partner’s first summer without her husband.  Her refusal and inability to plan bumps up against my need to plan.  We work it out, but it stretches me in ways I’d rather stay rigid.
My lipoma developed a hematoma.  I wanted to try and kayak with Carole today but can’t because of work partner.  So we’ll try again for Monday, which may be better.  We both need desperately to get into better shape and our lack of shape is hindering what we want to do an can’t.  We’ll be going north for vacation.  Some of our friends – I won’t say lots, but some – bicycle.  While it’s a nice idea, these friends also often (once a year?) hurt themselves in serious ways.  And they are starting out in much better shape than we are.  We should have stayed active and didn’t.  We quit smoking but gained weight.  I’m afraid of speed and of falling.  Falling out of a kayak will be safer for me than falling off a bicycle, though I know both can kill me.
So there’s that trip, and my mother comes and stays with the dog.  The dog is afraid of thunder, and this seriously degrades my quality of life.  I’m open to suggestion but won’t consider a thunder shirt.  Herbs don’t work, and neither does Benadryl, not when the dog believes it’s the end of the world.  We can’t drug her beyond Benadryl because she’s too big for us to manage physically if she can’t move under her own power.  Anyway I’ll have to visit with my mother around the vacation.  Then I want to see my daughter before school starts in August, and that will be sad, and far, and HOT.  And August is full of dates that will be extra sad for my work partner, due to her husband’s death.  It strikes me to notice that I don’t actually know when Father’s Day is this year.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a father figure or since my kids have had one, it’s not part of my psyche. 
Program-wise, not much is going on with me.  There’s two “rules” that have come to my attention, that may not be universally know or adhered to, but that I follow and believe are good.  One is to always get someone to go with you on a “12th step” call.  I put that in quotes because I don’t mean tracking down some unfortunate stranger, which I never do (but should), but rather responding when someone I know is drunk or drugged and asking for help.  I was taught to never go alone because, I guess, you don’t know what you’re getting into.  I did go alone once, and long time ago, and I can’t remember why I was alone, but it did work out OK, except that I missed “back to school” night for my kids and left them at their grandparents’ over night with no pajamas.  Which leads nicely to the second rule, which is to always say “yes” when someone in the program asks me to do something for the program which I can reasonably do.  Which is why I’ll be leaving my doggie alone in the potential thunder tomorrow night and showing another person how to make coffee for an AA meeting.  Which, if you’re me, is rather weakly, because I drink it black and don’t like it too strong.
Grateful I can go this mile.

Changing People, Places and Things (to avoid drinking)

Ultimately, I believe that a person will do what a person has to do to stop drinking, if that’s what she wants.  I spent many years in the hellish limbo where part of my wanted to stop, and knew I had to stop, and part of me held out hope of some way to drink successfully.  I would never recommend my road to recovery to anyone.  After six years of drinking in AA I finally stopped, but I quickly got married, got pregnant, had a baby, and moved 3000 miles.  Not recommend.

The effect for me was to change everything, really, all of my people and places and most of my things.  I spent almost all of my drinking years living with my mother.  There was alcohol readily available and at times I drank it.  I was saved more that once by having to go somewhere and buy alcohol, and changing my mind during the time it took to do that.  A strange fragment of a memory just came back to me, where I bought a six-pack at a bar, or tried to, I don’t remember if that was legal there and then.  I would almost never sit at a bar and drink, though I have done that a few times.  Almost all the time I took the alcohol home where I could be alone to drink it.

For me I can never know if the unavailability of alcohol is what finally did the trick, but I don’t think so.  When I listen to people in meetings talk about changing people, places and things to avoid drinking (because this topic can also speak to our efforts to change people, places and things by seeking to control them) they often find that their drinking buddies are not very appealing in sobriety, or that achieving sobriety allows them to finally leave a bad situation.  Again I think that in the end, a person will do what she needs to do if she truly wants to get sober.  Some will have to give up relationships and jobs and places, and some won’t.

June 2, 2014 (this day)

IMG_0314This is probably the marker for a grave for someone who died in an insane asylum and didn’t rate a named marker.  Someone who had no family to claim the body and bury it with the family, or bury it at all.  I’m fascinated by these things and lucky that Carole will go along with me.  We chanced on this cemetery while visiting our daughter.  Super cool!  Since this is an AA blog, I have to say it crosses my mind that before AA, had I lived then, this could have easily been my fate IF I’d been lucky.  In 1984, when I finally admitted to myself that I truly couldn’t stop drinking, I seriously considered that a mental hospital would be my only chance to live.  I wasn’t making it on my own.  If that had happened to me in 1984, there’s still a chance, I believe, that I would have stopped drinking because I imagine I’d have been exposed to some form of AA.  Before AA I don’t think there would have been a chance for me.  I don’t think I would have lived long enough to find a different solution.

In my life today not much is going on.  Our kitchen is still under construction but tonight they put the sink back in, so, progress.  I have truly missed having a sink.  At my meeting for the past weeks the group has done the “topic bag,” where each person in his turn reaches into the bag, pulls out a topic, and talks on it.  Twice when someone pulled “how important is it?” they stumbled or balked or passed.  I say all this in prelude to  recording that my kitchen is now a very very bright orange, a color that picked by accident.  ‘Nuff said.

I had a lipoma removed over a week ago, and there’s a big, hard mass under the scar.  The nurse who took out the stitches said it was clotted blood and that it could take up to eight weeks to dissipate.  It worries me, and it hurts.  I really want to kayak this summer.  We tried it a few times last summer, then Carole hurt her shoulder.  Now the weather is here and I’m out of commission.  I hope the nurse knows what she’s talking about and I’m getting lots of practice in refraining from worry.  A corrosive thread and one I can’t seem to let go of.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  And how important are any of them?