I don’t like to think about one year ago. This image of a woman, standing with these men, was too much to ask for. We were cheated out of it. There’s a little girl inside of me that can’t bear the unfairness and the fear of what will happen now. Meanwhile, I realize, the image of that woman stays ideal. Barbra Streisand (who I love ) wrote about us yearning for what should have been. Yearning is a good word for this occasion. It all still hurts so much.
But I, the sober alcoholic, have not drank over it. Thirty three years into sobriety I have a mighty tool chest, and I use it liberally because, well, I don’t like to suffer. I try to avoid it. Living well is the best revenge. Plus I still, almost one year after that terrible election day, spend some time each day fighting the machine. I’m volunteering for a man who is running against my awful trump puppet congressman, and I’m still letting my elected officials know what I think about what they are doing or failing to do.
The rest of life is good right now. My dog and my work partner are both still with me, today. My work is hard, mostly because we pay people $10 and hour to take care of other people, and it’s just not enough. We can’t find people to hire, even people who wouldn’t be good for the job. I’m not sure what will happen with that. I’ve been extremely blessed to never, besides a short period of time, have to support myself or my kids. So I can stay with the low pay but most people cannot.
I’ve started reading a short fourth step guide with Carole in the mornings and it asks a ton of questions about childhood. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good way to go about doing a fourth step, but it did uncover, for me, the glaring defect of self pity. While I know with all my heart and soul and intelligence that I have been extremely fortunate in having everything I need every day of my life, I did feel there were things I was lacking when I was a child. I’m lacking them now as well. And I feel that I’m not as fortunate as people who have these things. I know that I’m not.
But more about that when I get to doing the actual step. Soon.
I started this blog nine and half years ago to write about my experience being an old-timer in AA. I’m older now, and have more time. I started transcribing the steps from the 12 and 12. I started with step six because that was often where I stalled when doing or redoing the steps. Now I’ve written my way through steps six through twelve, then started at the top and did one, two and three.
Through the years I’ve done a few fourth steps. I don’t think it’s helpful for me to do the fourth step over and over, nor do I like to “do a fourth step” on certain issues that continue to plague me. I guess it helps some people, and that’s fine. I’ve done, I think, two formal fourth steps later in sobriety. I’m thinking now, wrong or right, I’ll do another. Couldn’t hurt?
There’s a lot going through my head. I’m just back from a weekend trip to buy my daughter’s wedding dress. We’ll call it a dress. It is not a traditional wedding gown, but very lovely and rather expensive. There was a time when the main thrust of my being was to ensure, to the best of my ability, my daughter’s health and safety. There was a time when her true and actual situation of today would have seemed like an impossible dream.
The weekend was 98% good. The bad parts had to do with my character defects, chief among them my fear of flying. I flew there and back. It was a short flight, what would have been a long drive, but I was certain I was going to die. That put a damper on things for me and those around me. I also indulge in the thoughts of “unfair!” Most people, I reckon, with this degree of fear do not fly, and are not facing this. The rest take drugs to cope, and are not facing this. In the airport, on the way out, I looked at every drinker around me (and there were many, and I wasn’t in a bar) and commented to Carole that I could drink to cope with this. But then I’d be disinvited from the occasion. More than that, at this point in time I would surely ruin the occasion. My alcoholism has not yet done that to my children or my wife. I’m sure it’s ruined things in the distant past for my mother. But here I go, and I’m dwelling, and it’s all linked in my psyche.
The gratitude list around this situation would fill many books. I’m profoundly aware of all I’ve received and all I have not earned and all I don’t deserve. Planes have not been dangerous to me or to my loved ones, not now and not in the past. Alcohol is dangerous, and alcohol has killed my ancestors early and in ugly ugly ways. And ruined much of what came before their deaths. My father could be something like 81 years old now. He never knew my daughter, and he didn’t know me after the age of 6.
The program is always relevant, and the part I need to think about next is Step 4. Inventory. I need one. I’m grateful that the program that saved my life demands one.