Let’s look first at the case of the one who says he won’t believe (Step Two continued)

Let’s look first at the case of the one who says he won’t
believe—the belligerent one. He is in a state of mind which
can be described only as savage. His whole philosophy of
life, in which he so gloried, is threatened. It’s bad enough,
he thinks, to admit alcohol has him down for keeps. But
now, still smarting from that admission, he is faced with
something really impossible. How he does cherish the
thought that man, risen so majestically from a single cell
in the primordial ooze, is the spearhead of evolution and
therefore the only god that his universe knows! Must he
renounce all this to save himself ?
At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs. This,
the newcomer thinks, is just about the last straw. This is
the beginning of the end. And so it is: the beginning of
the end of his old life, and the beginning of his emergence
into a new one. His sponsor probably says, “Take it easy.
The hoop you have to jump through is a lot wider than you
think. At least I’ve found it so. So did a friend of mine who
was a one-time vice-president of the American Atheist Society, but he got through with room to spare.”
This was me, in that I wouldn’t believe.  I wasn’t all about science, not at all, but I was severely disillusioned with my quasi-religious upbringing and I just thought God and the church were ridiculous.  I absolutely rejected this spiritual side of AA.  I stood and held hands at meeting, but I did not pray.
No one laughed, for which I am very grateful.  And thinking back, it seems to me it was the language of the books that finally cracked my door open just a little, just enough.
I try to maintain this attitude today with many issues.  I am very stubborn.  It is difficult.  But I have such a shining, such a drastic example of how this worked for me in my past.  I wonder if there are any more new lifes for me to begin.

September 21, 2014 (this day)

IMG_0546I recently had a reason to really think about how much time I devote to AA and AA activities.  It’s licensing time at my work, and that means, for me, a lot of extra work as we get ready then live through it.  It happens every year, for sure, and I should be better about it after all these years.  I am better about it, but still not great.  We’ve had lots of new clients, which is a good thing and a blessing, but new clients bring more work.  My work partner’s husband got seriously ill and then died this year.  We lost some key staff and we have been disappointed by other staff.  But I digress.


AA has asked a little bit more of me recently.  Through most of the last fifteen years of my sobriety, I’ve coasted along very nicely at a pace I enjoy.  I got to one or two meetings a week, including the group I helped found, and I do little extra jobs there most of the time.  I read AA-related literature with Carole most workday mornings and on my own at a slower pace.  I write here and read AA blogs and I help when I’m asked.


I guess that’s what’s increased.  Without being too specific, just because real people are involved, I will say more people have asked me for more and different help than usual.


It has always, always, been a profound blessing to me to be asked for help in AA.  My own story would have ended when I was not yet 22, and actually way before that had not the good people of AA helped me and helped me and helped me.  I honestly see any help I can give today as a way to pay those people back.  It’s also a way to keep AA going into the future.  And, oh yeah, the program tells me I have to give it away to keep it.  I am seriously invested in keeping it.  Helping others gives me life.  And it is a joy.


Then there’s the introverted me who needs time to do nothing, and to do it alone or in the small context of my small family.  At thirty years sober I don’t need a meeting every day.  If I ever do need that, I will joyfully attend and be grateful they exist.  But two is good for me right now.  When my kids were younger, it was often one meeting a week.  I put my personal minimum at that and kept it religiously.  Also, for my sanity, working five days a week works great for me.  Again, in past times when I had to work six days a week I did so gratefully, but that’s not now.


Anyway I had these increasing works demands, and suddenly these increasing AA demands, and I really thought, “How much time should I give AA?”  How much time, in order to live the best possible life I can live?  Because it is, of course, all about me.


And I thought about it and I decided.  I have to give AA all the time there is, if that’s what’s asked.  All my time, since May 1, 1984, belongs to AA.  The other things that ask for my time, including my job, exist for me because first there was AA.  AA didn’t put a limit on the time it gave me.  It gave me as much time as I needed, and it still does.  I’ll never be able to repay it.


IMG_0554I recently heard that if you have a close associate who has lost weight, or quit smoking, your chances of also doing so are greatly enhanced.  I believe it.  I was unable to quit smoking while Carole still smoked.  When I quit drinking, I was in a (terrible) relationship with someone who was not an alcoholic and who would refrain from drinking around me to help me.  I then got involved with my ex, who was also sober in AA.


So now Carole and I (also my work partner and I) struggle with eating right, and so often we drag each other down.


But in just about every other way, I do believe we are good for each other and bolster each other and support each other and succeed together.  I know it is that way for our long-term sobriety in AA, at least for today.  Without looking up the meaning, I’m taking “codependent” to mean “too dependent,” and there probably isn’t a way to live in a marriage with at least some of that.


As well there is unfortunate truth to the notion that a wife and mother will have a hard time being happy if everyone else isn’t happy, especially with young children.  We should be peaceful, knowing we’ve done our best, but if our best isn’t good enough, there won’t be peace.


AA helped me through the years with all of that.  It gave me endless resources of sober people to guide me and make sure I didn’t go off the rails with anything, relationship-wise and with my children.


And now, Carole and my work partner make me more friendly, and I make them more the thoughtful.  And the three of us need to lose weight.

September 8, 2014 (this day)

IMG_0558I just got home from a meeting where the topic was today’s Daily Reflection.  I don’t like that book.  I also really wonder about blogs that repost today’s gift from Hazelden.  If I wanted to read today’s gift from Hazelden, I would.  Those blogs clog up the ‘alcoholics anonymous’ feed.


Anyway the Daily Reflection had to do with ‘complete abandon.’  I thought about ‘abandon.’  Giving up completely.  Ceasing to take care of or look after.  Completely leaving.  Somewhere in one of the books it says “abandon yourself to Him.”  Abandon myself.  I was so very bad for myself that I had to abandon myself in order to stop killing myself.


Today, as far as my relationship with alcohol, I will call this abandonment a success (just for today).  Today I didn’t drink it.  I went with God’s will rather than my own will, as an alcoholic.  Although since many many years have passed since I last drank alcohol, I do believe my own will conforms for the most part to God’s will in this matter.  I will never think it’s safe for me to drink again (God willing).


But there are other ways in which I have not abandoned myself to God’s will as completely as I finally did with alcohol.  I still “take care” of myself in many ways, and my will doesn’t get closer to God’s will and doesn’t conform, and my mind doesn’t get changed, and my brain doesn’t get washed.  There are character defects that make themselves known to me many times a day, often many times an hour, and I still don’t do what I know very well I “should” do.  I’ve come to think of that “should” as a sort of voice of God.  When I know what I “should” do I know what the right thing is, and I very often fail to do it.  Even though my one complete abandonment (maybe two, counting cigarettes) has gone so well, improved my life, and given me life itself.


I wonder what Hazelden’s gift for today is.

A Death in the Family by James Agee (Literature as a Tool)

I had no idea when I started listening to this book that it had anything to do with drinking and alcoholism.  I knew that it’s a story about a boy whose father dies when the boy is six.  I was six when my father died.  This book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction so I thought I’d give it a try.


The writing is poetic and beautiful.  The voices of the characters seem authentic, from the six-year-old boy’s younger sister to his grandmother and in between.  Because my father died when I was six, I have some understanding of what that’s like, though of course my memories aren’t very long or detailed.  This child noticed different things than I noticed, remembered different things, and understood things differently.  It was very good.


I was astonished part way through by the description of the feeling of wanting a drink.  This, by an older character, not the six-year-old boy.  It was an excellent telling of what that feels like, and the rationalizations that go along with drinking alcoholically.  I actually asked Carole to listen to it, it was that good.


There’s also a question of whether or not the death was caused by drinking, and that’s an important question.  Today I imagine we would mostly know if alcohol was involved, but back then they may not have investigated that, or reported it if it was indeed a factor.  It was the factor in my father’s death, though that didn’t get made public, I don’t think.


When I finished the book I looked up the author and found out that he died young, like his father.  He has been described as a “hard drinker.”  The book brought together those elements for me in a way that is not like what I experienced, and yet it also is like what I experienced.  It leaves me with a sense of gratitude that in my own personal legacy, I have broken that chain.