Turning it Over Again and Some More

I came to write about enjoying life in sobriety, having fun.  But I’m not really having any, and that’s a shame.  I’m very stressed.  My number one stress is my dog.  She’s 14 and has, the vet says, liver failure.  Taking her on vacation in June nearly did her in, but since then she’s been holding steady.  I’m failing to enjoy this precious puppy because I fear the ultimate break with her, the one when she leaves me forever.  That is a darn shame.  An old dog is, for me, a wonderful dog.  She’s so much easier than she was when she was younger.  She’s so much more mine because more time has gone by.  She’s happy and she seems fairly healthy for her age.  She’s enjoying life and I’m so torn up over its end.

Work is also very stressful.  We are very short staffed, and that makes everything much more difficult.  My work partner, who I love working with and depend on heavily, turned 65 last month.  She’s probably staying a bit longer, but every day feels like the possible end with that.  And I could be enjoying her so much more.  We’ve been together a really long time and I’m beyond blessed and lucky to have had this amazing relationship.  But I’m torn up over its end.

I don’t know why my coping reserves feel so low right now.  Nothing major is wrong in my life, and I do so appreciate that fact.  I’m kind of floundering with how to have a real go at this problem, my attitude.

Looking at my alphabetical list of topics, after “enjoying life” comes the “exact nature of our wrongs.”  After Step Three comes Step Four.  Maybe some investigation will yield some clues and some clarity and path.  It always has before.

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September 4, 2017 (this day)

IMG_1186Just back from my daughter’s, and I miss her terribly and I hate how far away she lives and so I will attack that feeling with a gratitude list.

She’s happy; she’s healthy; it’s 5.5 hours by car without stops; I have a car that can drive 5.5 hours with no issues; I can pay for gas, take time off from work, leave my wife to tend the critters, drive safely with no fear that if I do encounter trouble, I won’t be safe – I mean I can make the drive with no fear; my body and mind are up to the task; she wants me to visit and so does her fiancé (enough to deal with it pleasantly, at least); if I called her right now, she’d answer the phone and talk to me; she has a nice house, with room for visitors –

and most of all – when I was at her house, and about 15 feet away from a deer, I didn’t embarrass any of us by freaking out, I didn’t scare the deer, and I kept myself calm enough to come home and write about it.

Step Three finale

How do you turn it over?

My standard answer and understanding is that I turn it over by working the steps.  If I live and abide by them, continuing to do a better job with that as time goes by, I will be turning my will and my life over to a higher power.  This higher power can be, for me, simply a better way of living.  Contributing and not taking.  Making people’s lives better because I’m here.  Being a better wife, mother, worker, citizen.  The way of my past, when I was drinking, was to take, sadden, and endanger people.  I had potential and resources but I rendered myself incapable of even caring for myself by drinking.

I have many tools that AA has given me and taught me how to use.  I can meet situations with gratitude and humility.  I can ask for help.  I can help others.  My mind and body work today because I’m not poisoning them with alcohol.  I have an infinite number of people who are walking this path with me and who will help me walk it when I participate in AA with them.

Drinking isn’t an issue for me today (though I always hold close the possibility that it is lurking there, waiting to kill me still).  Today I’d like to eat fat and sugar, retire early, stay home most of the time and play with Sims.  And smoke cigarettes.

Instead.  I wrote a postcard to my state representative (his turn, I’m sure he’s thrilled).  Took a walk for exercise.  Ate broccoli because I should.  Cared for my pets.  Read a book.  This week I’ll go to work, help with the congressional campaign, get ready to visit my daughter, see my son, pay bills and give some money to the fair district campaign in my state (my congressional district is shaped like John Lennon standing on his head eating an oatmeal cookie), attend my meeting, take the garbage out, answer the phone (cell phone only, not landline).  I’ll turn it over, and we’ll all be better for that.

August 20, 2017 (this day)

IMG_0652

What a difference a year makes.  My pictures from this time last year are painful to visit. But not a pictures of this little guy.  He’s basically the same as a year ago, the benefit of being young.  He’s named after a prominent member of AA’s past, by the way, Ebby.  The cat is basically the same.  The dog, my wife and I might be a bit worse for the wear of a year gone by, all being farther along in our expected lifetimes than he is.

I look at pictures from last year and I remember that I was working a bit on Hillary’s campaign.  The election was looming.  We’ve done more than just get older in a year, for sure.

This year I’m working harder on a different campaign, one for congress.  It amazes me how many people don’t know who their congressperson is.  That’s the person who sits on the other side from the senators when the whole gang gets together, and votes on your behalf about issues large and small.

I’m still letting my elected officials know what I think, one a day, each in turn.  Helping with the congressional campaign takes a little time right now, not much.  I honestly struggle to apply the concept of emotional sobriety to this endeavor.  Did I truly learn anything from last year’s experience?  I’ve gone in deeper.  Is that the right thing?

I’m also still facing the imminent decline and death of the precious pooch.  She’s holding her own today, though getting her to take a pill on an empty stomach is a process fraught with emotion and ending in failure every day.

Writing this makes me wonder what next month will bring, both with politics and with the pooch.

Emotional Sobriety

This sounded new age to me, but Bill W actually wrote about it link.

“How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result . . .  it’s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.”

He goes on to say that the answer is in perfect love.  Not being dependent on any person or thing, not even AA, but upon God.  That loving others with no expectation of return is the true key to happiness.  And in AA we have a field ripe for harvesting.

When I was newly, temporarily, precariously sober, avoiding an excess of negative emotion was life or death.  I had to work the program and practice the positive thinking it teaches, or drink.  Now the drink is much farther away.  The emotions are much milder and more easily handled.  I think that sometimes I stay negative because I’m not so compelled to change as I was in the begininng.

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.”

I’m going to make an effort in the next little while to examine my disturbances and identify the dependency and the demand.

My current big, long, awful disturbance – the election.  I depend on the government to do many things and to basically keep me safe.  The government is currently, in my eyes, putting me in danger.

The day after election day someone I work with said something like, “Don’t worry, God is in charge.”  I don’t believe that, though I accept that it may be true.  When I think about my government-inspired fears I have to acknowledge that most people in the world are not so well-situated as I am.  I protest without fear of reprisal.  I tell half of my elected officials that I disagree with them, again without fear of reprisal.  I’m allowed to engage in activities that are meant to undermine and overthrow these particular politicians.  In many places in the world this would be a very dangerous undertaking.  Not here.

And I have to acknowledge that no administration kept me “safer” than this one.  Danger is always there, and I live most of my life not considering it.   Dependency identified.  Now what?

I’m volunteering to help a campaign that seeks to oust my terrible congressman, so that’s something.  I can’t fit the pieces together to say how this reduces my dependency, but it does serve to take my mind off of it, at least for a while.

Apologies to my Readers

Somehow I stopped getting notifications for comments, and I really thought no one was commenting!  The last twenty (20!) are now approved and I’ll try to answer them.  Thanks for reading and commenting and again, so sorry.

July 4, 2017 (this day)

IMG_0583The cat the rugs were on the line for is dead.  She was 16, which to me is not old for a cat.  The dog, who is 14, has some kind of something wrong with her liver and she won’t take the Sam-E on an empty stomach the way she’s supposed to in order to help her liver.  Critters.  They take a lot of my mental and emotional energy right now.  I’m down two three pets.  The aforementioned dog and two cats, twins (or so the shelter told us) who are six years old and healthy.  One is purring on my arm right now, making it difficult to type.  Someone I work with said she wants to come back as one of my pets.  I haven’t had this few pets for many years.  I can’t really imagine or accept living without this dog.  I try not to spend too much time with thoughts like that.  Really, she could outlive me, you never know, and all the preemptive sadness will have been for nothing.

This may not seem to have much to do with AA, but when I contemplate all this, which is often, I really feel like I’ve gotten worse at AA over the years, not better.  And I’m not going to more meetings as a result of those feelings because I hate to leave the dog home alone.  And I’m not getting another dog because I hate to leave the dog home alone.  I’ll go to more meetings then.  There will be plenty of time.  If I’m fortunate.