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.
The 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.
It is when we try to make our will conform with God’s that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God’s intention for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door.
Once we have come into agreement with these ideas, it is really easy to begin the practice of Step Three. In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.”
I believe I have used this tool fairly successfully. Not in the sense that I always or even usually ascertain God’s will and then carry it out. And I also have never embraced and used the Serenity Prayer in my day to day life the way some people do. But I have for a long time known in moments of emotional disturbance or indecision to ask for God’s will. In times of very high stress, like when someone seems to be in mortal danger, I usually default to that thought, something like, “God, show me what to do,” or, “God, use me to do what needs to be done.”
I say I’ve used it successfully because I haven’t had a drink. I can see from here that it’s taking me myself and I out of the equation and opening my mind to what I hope is a better way. The rest of the Steps are the instructions for how to continue on in this.
This time last year Carole and I were looking for a stained glass window to buy for our house to commemorate our 19th anniversary of meeting each other. We found some great ones but don’t know how to have any installed. So we are still without. In another week we will mark 20 years since our first meeting in person. Twenty years is courtesy of AA in so many ways. I wouldn’t be alive to meet anyone without AA. And it is the most important thing we have in common. We met online and are so different in so many ways it might not have worked out if we had met in person, even in AA. So I don’t golf but I do go to meetings. I share her religion but not her religious details, but I do live by the same twelve steps.
Last week while she was away I went on my own to a meeting for someone who will challenge my terrible, terrible congressman in 2018. My congressman is a 97% match for Voldemort (aka current POTUS who I do not want to reference directly) but my district………
Then my daughter called. She is going to China for work in one week, for one week. Then she’s coming back and going to a house with us and our extended family. Then she’s going to South Korea for work. Then she’s planning a trip with two of her friends, me, my mother and Carole to go wedding dress shopping for her wedding which may occur sometime next year. My daughter is not aware that later tonight I’ll celebrate 33 years of sobriety, sobriety that began before she was born and that has protected her from so much misery every day of her life. If nothing else, I’m 100% sure my sobriety is the only reason she talks to me. My sobriety has all this, and it has produced another Democrat.
When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he cannot live well today. But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion—anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers.
My emotional life is ruled by politics right now, and I’m just going to go with it.
I know I’m not doing it well when I dream about congress, or when thoughts of politics and politicians are the first thoughts I have waking up, or the things that run through my head when I’m trying to sleep. I don’t feel that the negative emotions are excessive. I think anger, fear, and the like (disgust, dismay, despair) are appropriate and called for. If you’re not terrified you’re not paying attention! And I don’t live serenely.
I mean, I do live serenely, this just takes up too much negative space in my head and in my day. I haven’t reached my goal of spending ten quality minutes with it. I’ve seen people around me lessen their zeal. I think I have lessened my newspaper reading, but only a little. I’m not sure what an appropriate amount would be.
Other things. I marked 33 years sober last week. This number is beyond my comprehension. I feel in this way blessed among all the alcoholics who ever lived. Emotional hangovers, unpleasant as they are, are the only kind of hangovers I’ve had in all that time. I remember cotton mouth, dry heaves, vague and fearful regrets. I’ll take the emotional hangover because this hangover comes with hope and a plan to suffer less next time.
And viva la resistance!!
We have to soak the dog’s glucosamine and dissolve it because if she senses any kind of chunk, she spits it out. Someone fished the pill out of the water. I’m pretty sure it was one specific cat. I’m worried now that this cat is ill. She is the best cat I’ve ever had. She’s six years old, so hopefully if she is ill it’s easily taken care of. I’m writing on Sunday, and on Wednesday both my work partner and my home partner will leave on trips far far away. I’ll have the work place and the home place on my own, and that always causes me some anxiety. A sick cat would just not be good.
I was protesting yesterday and I was protesting last week. I’ve protested five times, I think, since that first one in DC in January.
Carole marked 21 years sober the other day. Yesterday at our meeting I told a bit of a story I’ll tell here. My daughter sometimes goes for work to the place where I grew up, drank and got sober. The other days she passed by my university and sent me a picture from traffic of a main walkway of the place. A walkway I used many, many times. It made me think that the worst years of my life were spent there. The years I was most drunk and that I’m only lucky I survived. If you had told me then that …..34? 35? years later my scientist daughter would pass by for work, that she’s care enough about me to take a picture and send it, that she’d by OK and I’d be OK and I’d be approaching 33 years sober…… Beyond my wildest dreams, for absolutely sure.
My co-worker’s step son died from and overdose the other night. My next door neighbor died from one two weeks ago. Two young people in their 20s.
All really is well with me right now. I’m still trying to adjust to the political “new normal,” the one where I’m engaged no matter what the outside conditions. I’m heartened by all the people who think like I do and who join me in these endeavors. I’m saddened by what I perceive I lost, knowing that it remains perfect in my imagination because it didn’t happen. I’m taking a moment to consider what the very old lady I might (probably not, but maybe) turn out to be 30-some years from now might be like. One thing for sure, if I don’t drink I should be a bit of an AA record holder by then.
Then it is explained that other Steps of the A.A. program can be practiced with success only when Step Three is given a determined and persistent trial. This statement may surprise newcomers who have experienced nothing but constant deflation and a growing conviction that human will is of no value whatever. They have become persuaded, and rightly so, that many problems besides alcohol will not yield to a headlong assault powered by the individual alone. But now it appears that there are certain things which only the individual can do. All by himself, and in the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop the quality of willingness. When he acquires willingness, he is the only one who can make the decision to exert himself. Trying to do this is an act of his own will. All of the Twelve Steps require sustained and personal exertion to conform to their principles and so, we trust, to God’s will.
Exertion! I was just asking Carole if she thinks that a lot of “failure” in AA is due to plain laziness. It does take effort to get in the car, drive to a meeting, participate in the meeting, go home again. I does take effort to read the books, talk to others, write a blog! I know that I want things to be easier than that. I want to work electronics and appliances without reading the instructions. I want AA without doing the work.
Sustained exertion. Sustained effort. Over good times and bad, boring times and interesting times. It’s the absolute best thing about my life that I sustained this effort. That’s how I “turn it over,” day after day.
So to apply this to today.
I’m still struggling. I’ve taken lots of, if not constructive action, at least action that’s not destructive. I’m still reading the New York Times (fake news) and my local paper. I’m still calling and writing my representatives. I’m trying to keep other people energized and engaged. I’m beginning to support someone who will challenge my terrible congressman in 2018.
I guess I believe that applying the program and the way of life and way of thinking I’ve developed as a result of the program will eventually lead me to serenity regardless of outside circumstances. All I need to do is to live long enough and keep exerting myself.